Dundalk may have earned themselves a €1.2m pay day with an away goals victory over FH Hafnarfjordur in Iceland on Wednesday night but manager Stephen Kenny insists this is just the start of their European adventure.
David McMillan’s double helped the Louth men to a 2-2 draw on the night, which proved enough to book their place in the Champions League third qualifying round against BATE Borisov.
The two sides are more than familiar with each other, with BATE eliminating Dundalk in the second qualifying round stage last year on a 2-1 aggregate scoreline.
However, Kenny insists there is no reason his side can’t put it up to the Belarusian champions again in the knowledge that even a defeat would leave them with a play-off to qualifying for the Europa League group stages.
“We probably had one of our best performances that we ever produced last year in Belarus. It’s a stadium the players will enjoy playing in against opposition they know well. Obviously BATE showed their quality in beating Roma in the group stages last year but from our point of view, I think we can get better than we were against FH.
“We’ve got to push on and not stand still and try and devise a way of playing for next week to get a result. It’s a good achievement getting to the third qualifying round but we need to build on it. We deserved to go through over the two legs. It was close, but I asked the players to put their bodies on the line because these games it can be life changing for you in a football context. You play games in fantastic stadiums and get to be part of something special and now we need to try and progress again.”
— Irish Examiner Sport (@ExaminerSport) July 21, 2016
“They were a good team FH and when they got going early on and late on you’ve seen their quality and that’s why they’ve won seven leagues. They’ve a winning mentality and they know how to get results but we’ve shown we know how to as well now.
“It’s just a credit to the players because ultimately football is about players. It’s hard enough to get respect winning your double leagues but hopefully it doesn’t have to end here and we can push on,” said Kenny.
Those comments were echoed by goal hero David McMillan, who brought his tally to nine in four matches while also writing his name into the club’s record books as their all-time leading goalscorer in Europe with four goals.
“At the minimum we have two more games and it’s two opportunities to get into the group stages of a European competition. At the moment we can aim massive and say let’s go for the Champions League because what have we got to lose ” he said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved