Not much has gone right for Dundalk FC since the club departed for Norway on Monday ahead of their Champions League second qualifying round second leg tie with Rosenborg but manager Stephen Kenny is confident everything will go according to plan on the field at the Lerkandal Stadion this evening.
The club’s chartered flight on Monday from Dublin Airport to Trondheim was delayed for almost two hours after a tow bar couldn’t be found to push the plane out from the terminal. Then yesterday, as Kenny chatted with members of the media at their Radisson Blu Hotel base, the building had to be evacuated after a fire alarm was activated
But Kenny’s sole focus is on helping his side produce “one of the great European performances of any team” to set up a dream clash with Celtic in the third qualifying round next week.
It’s familiar territory for the Louth men following last week’s 1-1 draw in the first leg at Oriel Park which saw David McMillan’s 18th minute opener cancelled out by Tore Reginiussen just before half-time.
This time last year Dundalk had also drawn 1-1 with FH Hafnarfjordur and travelled to Iceland knowing they needed to at least score to keep their European dreams alive. The side will take solace from the fact they overcame the setback of conceding early on that occasion to advance on away goals following a 2-2 draw.
However, Kenny insists Rosenborg are a step up on FH and believes his side need the “game of our lives” to advance to the third qualifying round.
“We’ve been here before but Rosenborg are a step up on FH,” he said.
“It’s a real, real challenge for us now and we’ll have to produce one of the great European performances of any team to advance.”
That said, Kenny is well aware that his side are capable of raising the bar.
“It’s still all to play for,” he said. “It’s a tough task, of course, because their home record is very good but we have a huge incentive to get through. All of the players will have to play the game of their lives and it would be one of the greatest results in the history of Irish sides playing in Europe if we do it.
“We have to score but the good thing is we’re not relying on any one player to do that. We have goals throughout the team but it will have to be an extraordinary performance from us to get through. I think the away goal only becomes relevant if it’s 0-0 but our games rarely finish 0-0 so it’s not something we’re massively focused on,” he said.
While Kenny did not overly want to focus on a potential meeting with Celtic, or Linfield if they can somehow turn around a 2-0 first leg deficit at Celtic Park, he admitted it was an extra incentive for the players to get past Rosenborg.
“It is very attractive of course but regardless of who we were drawn against it was always going to be attractive to get into and play in that round because it gives you two shots at the group stages.
“What we’ve got to do now is put in one of the best performances any Irish team has ever produced.” Kenny’s only injury concern is centre half Niclas Vemmelund, who limped out of the first leg last week with a hamstring strain. He will be assessed before kick-off but the manager said he would only be picked if 100% fit. Pal Andre Helland, who also limped out of the first leg, will miss out for Rosenborg whose manager Kare Ingebrigtsen said would need to improve on their performance at Oriel Park to advance.
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