Win in Moldova can change Dundalk's season, says head coach Filippo Giovagnoli 

A poor run of form has seen the Louth men slip 15 points off the pace of Shamrock Rovers in the SSE Airtricity League title race
Win in Moldova can change Dundalk's season, says head coach Filippo Giovagnoli 

David McMillan of Dundalk scores against Inter Escaldes during the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round. Picture: Manuel Blondeau/Sportsfile

It has been largely a year to forget for Dundalk but interim head coach Filippo Giovagnoli believes his side can turn that around and make a forgettable season an historic one if they beat Sheriff Tiraspol in their Europa League qualifier in Moldova tonight.

A poor run of form has seen the Louth men slip 15 points off the pace of Shamrock Rovers in the SSE Airtricity League title race, albeit with two games in hand still to play, with last season's title-winning boss Vinny Perth sacked last month amid claims of interference in team selection from the club's American owners.

Nevertheless, victory at the SC Sheriff Stadium this evening (kick-off 7pm Irish time) would leave the Lilywhites just 90 minutes away from a return to the Europa League group stages with a home tie to follow against either KÍ Klaksvik from the Faroe Islands or Dynamo Tbilisi of Georgia.

While not looking too far ahead, Giovagnoli is well aware of the implications that winning in Moldova could have on the club and its players.

"It's huge," he said. "We have to be honest, this is the game that can change a season. It can make this season unbelievable for them. Not for us because we're only here a month but for them it can be an historic game.

"We know that but we cannot panic. We have to stay focused and prepare well," said the Italian.

While Sheriff have won 10 matches from 10 at the start of this season domestically and conceded just twice, Giovagnoli feels they are a different proposition in Europe.

"In the league every year for them is a home run. They do what they want. They play as they want and they play with real confidence.

In Europe I saw a different team I have to be honest.

"I watched the Qarabag and Fola Esch games and they're different so let's see how they play against us. I think they're going to respect us and if they don't that's better for us.

"We've watched many of their games though and they're a very good team," he said.

With Andy Boyle suspended following his harsh dismissal in Andorra, Giovagnoli will be forced into at least one change from last week's 1-0 win over Inter Club d'Escaldes.

Dane Massey is out following a hip operation but Patrick McEleney is back in the squad following injury.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox