No lack of motivation for Drogheda as they set about plotting a Swedish upset in Malmo
For a team that has been crowned Swedish champions 19 times and produced players like Stefan Schwarz, Martin Dahlin and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a lot more was expected from Malmo in first leg
Drogheda’s Ryan Brennan (centre) goes close in the first leg at Tallaght Stadium.
After waiting five years to return to the European stage, Drogheda United are not ready to bow out as they set about plotting a Swedish upset in Malmo tonight.
In last week’s first leg of their second qualifying round tie, the teams played out a scoreless draw that had as much to do with Drogheda’s bravery as their visitors’ stuttering in front of goal.
For a team that has been crowned Swedish champions 19 times and produced players like Stefan Schwarz, Martin Dahlin and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a lot more was expected – especially from their own supporters.
Frustration from the travelling Malmo fans almost spilled over in Tallaght last week when manager Rikard Norling addressed them after the game. Now, they are demanding a convincing victory on home turf.
Malmo are familiar with success and do not respond lightly when held to a draw by a team of part-time players.
But Drogheda couldn’t be happier. In fact, manager Mick Cooke thinks his team can cut loose. And with a third-round clash against Hibernian plus a second cheque from Uefa worth €100,000 on offer, there is no lack of motivation.
“We’ve studied last week’s game and my assistant, Robbie Horgan, has watched them a lot recently, so we have identified a few weaknesses, which we will try to exploit and turn the tie in our favour,” said Cooke.
“The pressure is all on Malmo. We know that even if we go one down, it only takes one goal for us to jump in front and that’s why the away goal is so crucial. There will be no need to panic because of that away goal, if we can get it.
“Last week, Malmo had a lot of the ball, but they weren’t really hurting us and I think our lads realised that they are not super human beings and they can be beaten. It’s up to us to produce a big performance and do our talking with our feet.
“For the amount of big guys that they have, they looked to be quite vulnerable under high balls, so that will be one area that we will look to exploit. If we can keep our concentration levels high, then we have every chance.”
Cooke will be without midfielder Eric Foley (hernia) and Ryan Brennan (suspended), but he is likely to stick with the 4-1-3-2 formation that served him so well last week and frustrated Malmo so effectively.
Drogheda once enjoyed European adventures on an annual basis, although after waiting so long for it to return, they are determined to make the most of it.