Stephen Kenny will be in Poland tomorrow to watch Legia Warsaw host Piast Gliwice as Dundalk accelerate preparations for their huge Champions League play-off games against the Polish champions at Aviva Stadium on August 17 and in Warsaw on August 23.
“I’ll be a lot wiser from that,” said Kenny after yesterday’s draw in Nyon. “We’re already gathering information and trying to build a profile of their team. I want to have a fair degree of knowledge before I travel on Sunday, then watch them live and have a greater idea of how they set up technically and their strengths and weaknesses.”
Kenny is not inclined to read too much into the fact that BATE Borisov — the team stunningly beaten 3-0 by Dundalk to set up this play-off tie — are ranked higher than Legia by Uefa.
“BATE have earned that because they consistently got results to get them through the rounds and into the Champions League,” he said. “Does it mean they are a better side than Legia Warsaw because their coefficient is higher? Maybe not. Had Legia Warsaw not be thrown out of the Champions League for fielding an ineligible sub when they were 6-1 up (against Celtic), they would have got into the group stages and maybe their coefficient would have been higher. But I’m only finding out about Legia Warsaw.”
Kenny reiterated his satisfaction that Dundalk will play the home game in the Aviva Stadium.
“It would have been our choice to play there,” he said. “We have the experience of the FAI Cup final and we have good memories and the players are inspired by the idea of playing in the national stadium. There’s only one place they want to play this game and that’s the Aviva.”
Although drawing Celtic would have probably filled the ground, Kenny is hopeful that, while Legia won’t be short of support from the their ex-pat community in this country, that the Irish football public will come out in force behind Dundalk.
“It’s impossible to predict what sort of crowd we’ll get but I know the manner of our victory over BATE Borisov captured the imagination of everyone who loves football in Ireland,” Kenny observed.
“The messages we’ve had from all over Ireland... I do feel we connected with people with the way we played and they related to it and it brought them satisfaction.”
Chanpions League Play-Off draw:
Ludogorets v Plzen; Celtic v Hapoel; Beer Sheva; Copenhagen v Apoel Nicosia; Dundalk v Legia Warsaw; Dinamo Zagreb v Red Bull Salzburg; Steaua Bucuresti v Man City; Porto v Roma; Ajax v Rostov; Young Boys v Borussia M’gladbach; Villarreal v Monaco
Ties played August 16/17 and 23/24.
Europa League final qualifying round:
Astana v BATE; Midtjylland v Osmanlispor; AS Trencin v Rapid Vienna; Arouca v Olympiacos; Lokomotiva Zagreb v Genk; Vojvodina v AZ; Dinamo Tbilisi v PAOK Salonika; AEK v Liberec; Austria Vienna v Rosenborg; Beitar Jerusalem v St Etienne; Gent v Shkendija Istanbul; Basaksehir v Shakhtar Donetsk; Astra Giurgiu v West Ham; Sonderjyske v Sparta Prague; Fenerbahce v Grasshoppers; Sassuolo v Red Star; Brondby v Panathinaikos; IFK Gothenborg v FK Karabakh; Krasnodar v Partizani Tirana; Maccabi Tel-Aviv v Hajduk Split; Slavia Prague v Anderlecht; Maribor v Gabala
Ties to be played August 18 and 25.
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