Stephen Kenny is hoping that his Dundalk side can send shockwaves around Europe by overcoming Bate Borisov in their Champions League third qualifying round tie in Tallaght tonight.
The League of Ireland’s top dogs will start the second leg 1-0 down thanks to Mikhail Gordeychuk’s 70th-minute strike at the Borisov Arena last week, but Kenny has previous experience of turning a tie against Bate on its head.
The 44-year-old was the manager of Bohemians when they faced the Belarusian champions in the same competition back in 2003, the Gypsies recovering from a 1-0 defeat at the Gorodskoi Stadion to win 3-0 at Dalymount Park in the return leg.
However, since then, Bate have progressed to become regulars in the Champions League group stages and if Dundalk can retrieve the situation, Kenny feels it will be go down as the best-ever result by an Irish club in European competition.
“When Bohemians won the second leg against Bate all those years ago it was regarded as a shock result at the time but, since then, Bate have become a completely different animal,” he said. “They operate at a different level now. They’ve beaten some huge teams in the Champions League group stages and last year they were unlucky not to qualify from a group with Barcelona, Roma and Bayer Leverkusen. That’s the kind of league we’re in at the minute.
“They had five players in the
team that beat the Republic of Ireland in Cork before the European Championships,” he continued.
“Gordeychuk scored in that game and he wasn’t even in their starting XI the other night, which shows you the quality they have.
“If we can win this game, it will be the biggest shock of the week in European football and I feel it will be the biggest result of any Irish club in European competition. That gives us huge motivation.”
The Dubliner is confident his team can deliver on the big stage. “This team has shown in the past that they are capable of special nights and hopefully this is another one.”