On Thursday evening, Manchester United welcome Zorya Luhansk to Old Trafford in their second UEFA Europa League group game. The European rookies who the Red Devils will be facing claimed a draw in their debut in the competition, holding Fenerbahce 1-1.
The club were previously known as Zorya Voroshilovgrad and Zorya-MALS, and they are a Ukrainian club based in the Eastern city of Luhansk. The team is currently playing its games at Slavutych-Arena in Zaporizhia with their stadium having a capacity of 22,288.
Cup win last season a sign of Zorya's growth following back-to-back relegations in the 90's
Zorya are a club on the rise, and they have never won the Ukrainian Premier League in 15 participations since it's foundation in 1992. The club witnessed a major downfall in 1995-96 resulting in them being relegated to the second tier of Ukrainian football. Zorya failed to bounce back and things got worse, as they finished 19th in 1997-98 which saw them relegated to the third division. After returning to the top flight in 2006, the club finally got their first piece of genuine silveware in 2015–16, winning the Ukranian Cup to go alongside a fourth-placed finish in the league.
Vernydub to lead Luhansk in Manchester
Local former player Yuriy Vernydub is the club's head coach. He started his managerial career in 2001 when he was appointed at FC Metalurh Zaporizhya, who were playing in Ukraine's top flight league.
Vernydub left his position at the end of that season before he got back into coaching in June 2009, being appointed as an assistant at the same club. After a spell as an assistant coach with FC Zorya Luhansk he was made interim head coach in November 2011 after the manager was dismissed.
The Ukrainians have participated four times in the Europa League duringthe qualifying round in their club history, and were able to secure a point versus Fenerbahce in their first group game two weeks ago. Zorya's players were close to making a sensational result in front of their fans by getting all the points but their extreme joy was denied by Simon Kjaer's 96' minute stunner which saw them draw 1-1.
Zorya are currently second in the Ukranian league table, having won won six of their opening ten games this season. Vernydub's side have scored 17 goals and conceded seven so far this campaign, with Ukranian international Oleksandr Karavayev having found the back of the net four times.
A relative unknown, can Luhansk produce an enormous surprise by avoiding a loss to Mourinho's men?