Stephen Kenny says Dundalk ready to face Larnaca challenge
Manager remains bullish after the 0-0 stalemate at Oriel Park
Stephen Kenny: “We know we’re in for a tough game but we’re capable of scoring goals.” Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Dundalk FC manager Stephen Kenny has backed his side to keep their cool in the Cyprus heat when they take on AEK Larnaca this afternoon.
A temperature of 34°C and 64 per cent humidity is forecast for the 6.30pm kick-off at the AEK Arena (4.30pm Irish time) but Kenny is not going to let the weather concern him.
“We’re not going to get hung up on the heat,” he said.
“We respect Larnaca as a team themselves so we’re not getting hung up on conditions. We’ll adapt accordingly. These are factors you have to get on with. Our sports science and medical team have been planning with the players what to drink and that sort of thing so we’ll be ready for the match.
“It is a dilemma whether you can press at the intensity you’d like to press at in the heat. We are capable of adapting our style. We’re not naive in our approach but we believe in what we’re doing and we’re very determined to win the game,” said Kenny.
A 0-0 draw from the first leg means an away goal could be massive in helping Dundalk advance to the third qualifying round. That’s something that won’t faze the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division leaders, who have scored in every away European venue they have played at under Kenny prior to this.
“We’re not displeased,” he said when asked about the position his side found themselves in.
“It’s a big challenge for us. Larnaca will be favourites because they’re at home, they’re the Cypriot Cup holders and they got the draw in Ireland but we’re not fazed by that. We know we’re in for a tough game but we’re capable of scoring goals.
Dundalk have been boosted by the news that full back Sean Gannon is available for selection once more having missed the first leg and last Sunday’s 2-0 league victory at home to Bohemians with a calf problem.
“He’ll hopefully train this evening and he should be available, Kenny confirmed.
Meanwhile, new AEK coach Andoni Iraola, who takes charge of his first competitive home game against the Irish side, feels his team will have to score twice to progress.
“We are in good form and we’re ready to perform,” he said.
“The result we have is very open. We know we have to score at least two but that’s what we will try to do. That will be our main focus.”
The former Athletic Bilbao star said he doesn’t expect to have any of the players missing from the first leg available but added: “I trust in the players on the pitch.”
On Dundalk he said: “They have very good individual players. They are good on the wings and from set pieces. They have a lot of players who can score but also they have weaknesses, as we do, and we’re going to try and exploit them.”
This evening’s game is being broadcast live on eirSport at 4.30pm.