Cork City manager John Caulfield has called for patience from his team and the club’s supporters ahead of tonight’s Europa League second qualifying round second leg against BK Hacken at Turner’s Cross (7.45pm).
Having drawn 1-1 in Sweden last week, a clean sheet would guarantee the Rebel Army’s progression, but Caulfield is aware of the size of the challenge presented by the Gothenburg side and would still class victory as an upset.
“It’s a patient night,” he said. “It’s not going to be gung-ho like the Linfield game because it’s a different type of game.
“If you’re gung-ho, these guys are going to pick you off. They don’t have nine internationals — some current, some former — for no reason. They’re a league of nations with all their players, from Africa, Brazil, all across Europe.
“They’re a €25m budget club so they’re at a different level. From that point of view, if you’re gung-ho, you’re stupid. At the end of the day, we need the crowd to be patient, to understand the game, that it’s not going to be gung-ho but, at the same time, we need to be defensively very tight.
“We’ve worked on some areas that we think can cause them problems. I think the crowd understand it’s going to be that kind of night. You don’t get this kind of opportunity too often and everybody needs to be on form.”
City are expecting their biggest attendance since the league game with Dundalk in 2014 which drew 5,650 to the Cross, and Caulfield doesn’t play down the impact of a passionate crowd.
“They have a huge role to play,” he said.
“Ticket sales have been very brisk, it has captured the imagination, supporters can see what an opportunity it is. We just need to stress for the fans to come out, be very vocal, be as aggressive as they can — in a nice way! — and show all the passion.
“Obviously, they have to be patient as it’s a European game rather than a free-flowing League of Ireland match. We’re playing in a stadium that they’re not used to, with the crowd three feet away, so it could come as a culture shock to them.
“The more noise, the more intimidating it can be, players can react very funnily to that kind of situation. From our point of view, we’d hope that it might rattle them.”
Apart from long-term absentees John Dunleavy and John Kavanagh, the only fitness worry is midfielder Greg Bolger. He suffered an ankle injury in the first leg of the previous round against Linfield, though was able to feature last week in Sweden.
“Everyone looks okay,” Caulfield said.
“Greg Bolger, obviously, has done very little. He’s getting intensive treatment so we’re going to leave him until the last minute, I think everyone can understand why.
“It’s very tight. He had two weeks off after the Linfield match. Obviously, we didn’t play him in the second leg. Last week, he gave an outstanding performance.
“If it was a normal league game, you wouldn’t play him, that’s how tight it is with him.”
“Other than that, everyone else is okay, everyone trained this morning. The mood is good, we know it’s going to be a very difficult game, we know we need massive concentration but we’re all looking forward to the game.
“We feel that if we play to our strengths, and with a passionate crowd, that we can potentially cause an upset.”
The goal last week came from a Seán Maguire penalty, the same source as the two in the 2-1 aggregate win over Linfield.
However, Caulfield has no worries about his side’s ability to otherwise find the net.
“None,” he said, “simply because, to be fair, if Linfield hadn’t had Roy Carroll, we’d certainly have scored a few goals from play.
“Out there, had the ‘keeper any major save to make? No, but at the same time, for the penalty (Stephen) Dooley was straight in, potentially he would have scored.
“We have created chances, in Europe you don’t get a lot of them — the Linfield game was different because it was more like a league game — but I’ve no fear of our lads because we look dangerous.
“We’ve done a lot of work on attacking play this week, so I think if the opportunities come, we’ll stick them.
“Our team is much more attacking this year, people can see that.”
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