Stephen Kenny backs Dundalk to grab a goal in Cyprus
Uefa Europa League qualifying second round, second leg: AEK Larnaca v Dundalk (today, 4.30pm, 0-0 agg.); Crusaders v Olimpija Ljubljana (tonight, 8pm, 1-5 agg.)
DUNDALK manager Stephen Kenny has warned his side are more than capable of scoring goals on the road in Europe ahead of today’s Europa League qualifying second leg in Cyprus.
Dundalk go into this afternoon’s second leg against AEK Larnaca on an equal footing following last week’s 0-0 draw at Oriel Park. While Kenny admits Larnaca will start the match as favourites, he is far from throwing in the towel given Dundalk’s European heroics in recent times.
“It’s an evenly balanced, the game. AEK Larnaca will be the favourites to go through because they are the home team, which is only natural,” said Kenny.
“We have the capacity to score goals away from home in Europe, we have done it before and we will go with the ambition of doing so again. Nothing is guaranteed. You might score and you might get hammered. That is irrelevant. Every game is different, it presents a different challenge than other times before.
“This is a big challenge for us. We are playing in 35 degree heat against a Larnaca team with good European pedigree, but the players are looking forward to the game and they have ambitions themselves. They want to progress.”
Dundalk warmed up for the trip to Cyprus with a 2-0 away win over Bohemians in the Airtricity Premier Division on Sunday, and Kenny is happy with the state of his squad.
“Preparation for the game has gone really well, in fact,” he added.
“We were delighted to get through the game against Bohemians on Sunday unscathed with no injuries. It was a tough game for us on Sunday with a good win. Tuesday was a travel day for us and we trained this evening, so we are all set for the game.”
Crusaders’ chances of progress in the Europa League look less optimistic after they fell to a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Olimpija Ljubljana in Slovenia last week. However, Crues boss Stephen Baxter believes the Danske Bank Premiership champions may be able to exploit some aerial weakness in their opponents, even though they are currently without injured striker Jordan Owens, who is ruled out with a hamstring problem.
The Shore Road men limbered up for tonight’s second leg with their final pre-season game against Larne at Seaview last Saturday, which they lost 2-1 in horrendous weather conditions.
Meanwhile, Cliftonville have confirmed a number of additions to their squad ahead of the start of the Danske Bank Premiership season.
In addition to the promotion of Caoimhín McConnell from the Olympic team and the return of Daniel White from Newington, the Reds have also completed the signing of Rotherham United graduate Thomas Maguire.
All three impressed in pre-season appearances for the first-team, with McConnell among the goals against both Ballinamallard United and Swords Celtic and Maguire completing the scoring in last week’s 6-1 defeat of the ’Mallards at Solitude.