Rosenborg a ‘tough’ draw for Dundalk, admits Kenny
‘They are a strong club and we’ll be very wary of them but we won’t be frightened at all’
Stephen Kenny: “It’s not going to be easy but it won’t be easy for them either.” Photograph: Jonathan Porter/Inpho
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny admits that he might have been happier with the way this morning’s Champions League draw turned out, but says that Rosenborg will have to be wary too against of next month’s second qualifying round encounter.
“It’s a tough draw,” he says. “FH (of Iceland) or Maribor (from Slovenia) probably would have been easier but then we are probably the toughest draw they could have got. We were the highest ranked of the non-seeded sides and we would have been seeded if the system was over three years rather than five, we just hadn’t been in Europe every year over the five.
“Last year they put out the Swedish champions (Norrkoping) which was a great result for them but we did well ourselves. Obviously they have the resources to bring in someone who has played for Juventus (on loan) and Arsenal (the striker Nicklas Bendtner) so we won’t be underestimating the scale of the challenge but these have been exciting times for Dundalk and European football has been a big part of that. The fact that the home game is going to be in Dundalk will make it all the more special for the supporters. It’s not going to be easy but it won’t be easy for them either.”
Kenny remembers well his previous tangle with the Norwegians, as manager of Bohemians in 2003 when the Dubliners lost 5-0 on aggregate, but suggests the challenge this time might not be quite as daunting as on that occasion.
“At that stage they were regulars in the group stages of the Champions League and almost every player was an international. The town (Trondheim) has a population of less than 200,000 but they were selling out their stadium, which has a capacity of 20,000, every week. There was a confidence about the place, a presumption that they were going to reach the Champions League group stages, they could see only one thing . . . the whole mentality seemed to be something you would have expected from a club from a city of a million or more.
“They had some more difficult times after that, Molde became the strongest club for a spell but they seem to be back on top again and they’ve won a double-double over the last couple of seasons. That’s something we came close to doing but couldn’t quite manage, we lost the cup final to Cork last season.
“So they are a strong club and we’ll be very wary of them but we won’t be frightened at all. They’re very different to the club they were back then and I’d very much like to get over to see them now; I don’t think it will be this week because they play on Sunday but we have a game the next day (against Galway United) but we’ll be in a better position to judge their strengths and weaknesses by the time the first game comes around (July 11th or 12th).”
Kenny restated his belief, expressed repeatedly last season, that he would prefer all of the European games to be in the biggest stadium possible as he believes, he says, that his players tend to thrive on the greater stages, but says that he accepts it is important this game takes place in Oriel Park.
“From a footballing point of view I don’t think it’s important but from the town’s point of view and the club’s point of view, I think it is important that the game is not taken out of Oriel; I would accept that. The fact that the game is in Dundalk will generate a lot of excitement.”
He has not, he says, ruled out strengthening the squad before the game but, he says: “We’ll see, you need players who are match-fit and can make an immediate impact. Sometimes you can sign players at this time of year and you end up spending a month getting them up to the pace of things. So we’re not sure yet but we’re considering it.”
Dundalk made around €7 million in prize money from their European run last season but losing in the first round this time would leave them with a little less than 10 per cent of that figure. Beating Rosenborg, though, would guarantee it an initial €1 million, get the club a step closer to the group stages and provide the fallback of at least one Europa League tie in the event that it lost in the third round of the Champions League qualifiers.