Coleman to stick with Sligo tactics for Rosenborg tie
In Sligo's Showgrounds yesterday the rhetoric sounded more like a sales rather than a press conference as players and managers talked about closing a deal.
And there is no guarantee they will. Ahead 2-1 on aggregate after their brilliant victory over Rosenborg in Trondheim last week, Sligo approach tonight's Europa League second round game looking to not just make history, but also escape it. Prior to this season, they had only won one European tie, but now they are on the verge of causing a major upset against a club who, not so long ago, were brand-leaders in the giant-killing business.
AC Milan, Real Madrid, Valencia. They came, they saw, they were conquered by the Norwegians who qualified for the Champions League group stages for 11 years out of 13 up until 2007.
Now the hunters have become the hunted. Tactically outthought by Sligo last week, a factor that contributed to their manager Per Joar Hansen losing his job, Rosenborg have to firstly find a plan which works and then execute it.
"Whatever they plan on doing, we won't be deviating from what we did last week," said Sligo manager John Coleman. "It would be far too risky for us to do that. Our system worked well out there and we'll stick by it. For us, it's about seeing this job out."
If they are to do so then yet again a big performance will be needed from their captain Alan Keane, who has been an absolute inspiration for the Bit O'Red, scorer of crucial goals against FK Banga in the first round and then again against Rosenborg last week.
"Hopefully, we can seal this deal," said Keane. "But it's going to be difficult, because they're technically very good. But look, we are focused. We have a chance to make history because for years this club struggled in Europe. Since I came here in 2009, we didn't get through a round in Europe until this year and now we've a chance of getting through two."
"I'm sure they won't fancy coming here, with the tight pitch and stuff like that and with the 3,900 fans here. Once the Showgrounds is rocking, there's no better place to be."
The place Sligo really want to be is in the third round. Opportunity knocks.