Larnaca dangerous on the break but Dundalk must attack says Stephen Kenny
Dundalk can book their place in the third round of the Europa League qualifiers with a win or a score draw in Cyprus this evening.
The Lilywhites take on Larnaca in the second leg of their tie following last week’s scoreless encounter at Oriel Park.
Stephen Kenny’s men had the better of that affair, only to be frustrated by the resolute Cypriots. Nonetheless, the Dundalk manager feels the game at the AEK Arena could be an epic.
“We’re very excited about the game,” he said. “It’s very finely tuned, it’s in the balance.
“Larnaca, obviously, have good European pedigree. They will feel in the ascendency being the home team and having got a draw in Ireland, but we certainly don’t feel that way.
“We feel we’re in for an epic battle and we’ll have to put in a big performance in the heat, and see if we can get through.”
History is on Dundalk’s side as, since 2014, they have scored in 10 of 11 European away fixtures, including in the 1-0 win over Levadia Tallinn three weeks ago.
Yet Kenny has played down the significance of this record, insisting that guaranteeing progression, no matter how, is of more importance than maintaining their impressive scoring run.
“The players, to their credit, have been very consistent and have shown the capacity to score goals away from home which is critical and we need more of that overall.
“But we need a result, it’s not just enough to score, we need a result and hopefully we can get it.
“We’re very determined to try and win. We worked very hard to beat Levadia Tallinn to get here and we want to stay in the competition.”
Temperatures are expected to soar this afternoon, climbing above 30 degrees. Should it reach 33 degrees, water breaks are compulsory with UEFA delegates set to monitor the situation ahead of kick-off.
Sean Gannon remains Dundalk’s sole fitness concern. The right back has been suffering from a calf injury and has missed the last two games, including the first leg. However, he took part in full training at the ground last night and is expected to be included in the match day squad.
For Larnaca coach Andoni Iraola, it’s a first competitive home match.
The former Athletic Bilbao defender only recently took the reins and is under mounting pressure to qualify for the group stages.
“We need to score and to put the match in our advantage,” he said.
“We know that they’re a dangerous team. They have speed and they can be dangerous on counters. But we have to attack.
“For me and most importantly the team and the club, we have to perform well and be in the next round.”
The prize for the winner is a tie with Sturm Graz of Austria.