Cork City banking on experience for Europa League tie
John Caulfield says his side are ready to pounce on any complacency in KR Reykjavik
Cork City’s Billy Dennehy was on the mark against Derry in team’s last outing. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Cork City’s preparations for this evening’s Europa League tie against KR of Iceland have included trips out to see their opponents play twice and John Caulfield has seen enough, he says, to be cautious.
His opposite number, Bjarni Gudjónsson – who once played for Stoke City – is more confident if the local papers are to be believed and that has clearly encouraged the Corkman.
“I’d put the whole thing at 50-50,” said Caulfield, “but they think they’ll beat us; that seems to be the message from the manager when he’s been talking to the local media.
“They’ve been in Europe for something like the last seven years and they seem to reckon that experience will see them through. Well, we’ve a bit of experience here ourselves.”
Most recently, though, the two goals they conceded when Finnish side FC Haka came to town in 2009 suggested that they had a bit to learn about the European stage and Caulfield is hoping that some of his most experienced players will help lay the groundwork for victory over the two legs.
“We’ll have Colin Healy back after the suspension he was serving the other night and you certainly hope that the likes of him, Alan Bennett and Liam Miller stand out on a night like this.
“It’s a very different challenge to playing a league game,” he said. “It’s a different football culture you’re up against and even the fact that you have a referee who is going to do things differently.”
Like Cork City, KR are three points off top spot in their domestic league and they have been on something of a run of late, winning both of their games over the past week more convincingly than the single-goal margins would suggest.
“They were impressive,” says Caulfield, whose own side last lost a league game on the April 24th.
“But the one thing I’d say is that the teams they were up against tended to settle for getting 11 men behind the ball so they dominated possession and eventually won the games with late goals.
“This should be a bit different. I’d expect them to come here, sit back and look to hit us on the break.
“The challenge for us is to get at them and score because I’d like to see how they’d react to being behind and having to fight their way back into something. I’m not sure it’s something that they’re all that used to having to do.”
Take a chanceGary Martin
The Irishman will have been pleased to have seen both of his own top scorers, Billy Dennehy and Karl Sheppard, on the mark in Derry on Friday, but the game has come a little too soon for John Dunleavy, while John Kavanagh and Kieran Djilali are also both still out.