Striking the balance between defensive solidity and the quest for an away goal is the key challenge for Cork City as they head to Belgium today for Thursday’s Europa League third qualifying round clash with KRC Genk, according to manager John Caulfield.
Having beaten Sweden’s BK Hacken last week, City are aiming to progress through a third consecutive European round for the first time.
“I think we’re dangerous on the counter and we have a lot of pace wide,” says Caulfield.
“You would imagine with them being at home first, they’ll be thinking they can win the match comfortably. We’d expect them to come at us but that’ll give opportunities on the counter.
“The fact that we’re away first is probably better because we knew that they’d come at us, if we were at home it might be a bit different.
“In all the ties so far, we haven’t been behind, which has been huge. It’d be fantastic from our point of view if we could bring the tie back.”
City’s only real injury worry is stand-in captain Greg Bolger, who will again face a fitness test before Thursday’s 7pm kick-off at Cristal Arena, though Caulfield also confirmed that right-back John Kavanagh is unlikely to feature for the rest of the season.
“It is an issue, there’s no doubt about that, it’ll be three games a week for a long time,” he says.
“But do you want to be in Europe, do you want to have occasions like last Thursday night? I think if you asked all the team, what happened was incredible. We know that the build-up is going to come but when it does we just have to deal with it.”
The European run so far is estimated to have earned the club over €500,000, though it won’t be received until next year.
“There’s a lot of talk about the money,” says Caulfield. “As far as I’m concerned — and I understand from the club point of view it’s important to win — you can’t beat memories like Thursday night.
“We know a lot about Genk and we’ll give it our best shot, but from my point of view it was never about money.”
The game will be shown live on eir Sport 1, one of several live matches announced by the broadcaster. Also being screened are: BATE Borisov v Dundalk tonight (7pm, eir Sport 1), Astana v Celtic tomorrow (3pm, eir Sport 2), Sligo Rovers v Derry City on Friday (8pm, eir Sport 1), Dundalk’s return leg next Tuesday (8pm, eir Sport 1), and City’s second leg on Thursday week, (7.45pm, eir Sport 1).
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