Hoops dream of Juve but Israelis lie in wait

THE Old Lady of Turin has batted her eyelids in Shamrock Rovers direction and tonight they have their chance to respond in the Europa League Second Qualifying Round Second Leg (kick-off 6.30pm Irish time).

Bnei Yehuda and the stifling heat in Israeli stand in their way at the Bloomfield Stadium which is situated in the ancient port of Jaffa, now a suburb of Tel Aviv. In this historic location, Ireland’s most successful club have a chance to return to former glories.

Hoops boss Michael O’Neill last night spoke to his players about the prospect of such a big game, emphasising it could be the biggest of their careers if they can progress from the second-round qualifiers.

With the tie delicately poised at 1-1, the former Northern Irish international believes his side can progress.

“The player’s know the significance of a game like that,” he said. “They know taking part in a game like that would be a major highlight in their careers. We have talked about it briefly. I don’t think it will make them anxious or nervous. I think it’s there to give them added inspiration.

“We understand the financial benefits that would bring, the lucrative tie it would bring in the next round.”

Top of the Airtricity League and on a 10-game unbeaten league run, the Hoops are riding high. They travelled without Pat Sullivan and Dessie Baker, but otherwise are at full strength.

Although they needed a late equaliser at Tallaght, Rovers dominated the first leg and while O’Neill reckons that while Yehuda will have more possession in the warm conditions, he reckons his side know how to win.

“Confidence is high,” he said. “I think we’ll get chances and if we can take those, I think we’re strong enough at the back to make that count.

“We will have to be very disciplined and focused. In Europe when the ball changes hands, teams can counter quickly like we saw in Tallaght, and that will be a key factor.”


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