Sligo Rovers are on the brink of one of the biggest achievements in the club’s history. Last season’s FAI Cup winners lead Norwegian giants Rosenborg 2-1 ahead of tonight’s Europa League second qualifying round second leg at The Showgrounds.
If John Coleman’s charges can avoid defeat — the visitors need to at least score two goals and win — Rovers will get through a second successive round in Europe, something never before achieved by the north-west outfit.
Sligo boss John Coleman, appointed in mid-June as Ian Baraclough’s replacement and unbeaten in five of his six games so far, wants his side to be on the offensive in front of an attendance that is expected to be close to 4,000.
He said: “I want a goal at home, but a clean sheet even more so. To be honest, looking back on last week [the first leg], I think we could have scored more than two, it might seem a bit greedy but sometimes you have to be greedy in football.
“What really pleased me was we remained on the front foot away from home, it would have been an easy option for us to sit back in our own box, but we took the game to Rosenborg from the first minute to the last. I do believe that the best form of defence is attack and I want to see the same in the second leg.”
He believes Sligo have the wherewithal to complete their European assignment and set up a clash with Turkish club Kardemir Karabukspor in the third qualifying round.
“I think it would be a folly to change our approach. The lads played ever so well last week and there is no guarantee we will play as well again, but our main focus will be keeping the energy levels up. That, along with determination, will go along way and I believe we have the skill to control areas of the game that we need to control,” he stressed.
Sligo have their squad issues, however, with injury ruling out Raffaele Cretaro, Jeff Henderson, Aaron Greene and Joseph Ndo. Danny Ledwith, injured last Thursday, is expected to be fit having training yesterday.
Although Sligo’s hopes of qualifying for Europe next year are in the balance — they are currently fifth in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division — they’ve been in blistering form in Europe.
Sterling full-back Keane and Danny North netted in Norway last week and striker North, with 10 goals already this season, is rediscovering the form he showed before a knee injury sustained two years ago.
Rosenborg arrive in turmoil — having sacked manager Per Joar Hansen last Monday and replaced him with caretaker boss Kare Ingebrigtsen — while Costa Rice World Cup star Cristian Gamboa isn’t in their squad, with a move to the English Premier League imminent.
John Coleman, appointed just days after Baraclough was dismissed on June 19, can appreciate the situation that Rosenborg, a club with enormous European pedigree, are in.
“I don’t think it [the managerial change] is going to have much influence on proceedings, they have some senior players capable of making an impact and influencing the way they play. A manager losing his job is a situation you never like to see, I have been in that position before. But when results are not going your way, the manager is the first person everyone looks to, but I think they are professional enough to know they are coming here to do a job for their club.”
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