Stephen Kenny hoping Dundalk can cause Europa League upsets
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny admits his side are seen as outsiders for qualification from their Europa League group.
The plucky County Louth team of semi-professionals play AZ in Holland on Thursday night as they kick-off their European campaign after being eliminated from the Champions League play-offs by Legia Warsaw.
But Dundalk have a record of more than matching good teams, and Ke nny said: "Most neutral observers would think that we have very little chance of making it through when you consider the teams in it - Maccabi, AZ and of course Zenit St Petersburg, who won the competition outright in recent history.
"They would feel that they ultimately are much bigger clubs and inevitably they would see it as somewhat of a formality that we would be bottom of the group. I think that would be the general train of thought.
"It is difficult to argue with that, I cannot deny that, that is reality, that is what people think about it, but I do think we have shown consistently this season against good teams that we have been able to more than match them."
He added: "It is our ambition to try and get some results and see where it takes us."
Dundalk have won League of Ireland titles under Kenny in 2014 and 2015 but t his is their Europa League group stage debut.
The only Irish side to have previously made it this far in the tournament is Shamrock Rovers, who lost all six of their games in 2011-12.
But Kenny warned: "We have consistently gotten better over the last three seasons.
"Our players are technically very good and have a very good attitude and they are improving. It is a young team that has improved over the last couple of seasons."
A sizeable support is expected to travel from the border town of Dundalk to Holland for the fixture.
The manager stopped his team bus on the motorway en route to Dublin airport t o pick up some fans whose minibus had broken down.