Monday 19 August 2019

'They are one of the best sides we've ever faced' - Dundalk boss Perth praises Qarabag

Perth: ‘We will bounce back’. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Perth: ‘We will bounce back’. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Down, but not out.

After management said their piece in the Dundalk dressing room, senior players chimed into the post-mortem that followed a draining experience for the League of Ireland champions.

"They see it as half-time in their European adventure," said Dundalk boss Vinny Perth, a reference to the fact that the loss to Qarabag sends Dundalk into the Europa League and a two-legged tie with Slovan Bratislava with round one in Slovakia next Wednesday.

"We didn't deserve to win the tie, we were short in one or two areas and that hurt us, but we're not done yet."

Perth made no excuses, admitting that Qarabag were simply a superior outfit.

Some visiting players did struggle with the heat, but this was an emphatic defeat and there was no attempt to dress it up as anything else.

"They are one of the best sides we've ever faced," said Perth, "We've gone up more than one level. That's going up two levels. This is where we want to get to.

"Yes, wouldn't it be amazing getting to the Champions League but our goal over the next few years is Europa League football and if can win (against Bratislava) then we're in the play-offs."

"We are getting there, we are moving. Results are getting better but other lower-ranked nations around Europe are getting better, too. So it's going to be difficult, but we will be positive about next week"

He shrugged off the suggestion it would be a challenge to lift morale.

"It won't be hard to pick them up," he replied. "We aspire to be involved in these moments. We don't aspire to be beaten 3-0, but we aspire to be in or around these sort of nights and these sort of teams and we've got another big one next week. I don't see that being a problem whatsoever.

"We are prepared for this mentally. And we have the video ready. We'll be training (gym work) tomorrow and we'll be back in together as a group over the weekend."

Indeed, while Qarabag's superior ability was a menace last night, Perth feels that experience of locking horns with a higher power might actually aid their warm-up for Bratislava.

"The biggest plus for me is that it's brilliant preparation for next Wednesday night," he said.

"Do I think it will be easier next Wednesday night? Not a lot easier, but it will be easier so the preparation for next week is done and the last two weeks will make sure we are right at it."

Bratislava were eliminated in the previous round of the Champions League by Sutjeska from Montenegro, the team that was comfortably dispatched by the APOEL Nicosia side that now face Qarabag.

The Slovakians then entered the Europa League route for defeated domestic winners and emerged victorious from a two-legged tie with Kosovan outfit Feronikeli.

They last encountered Irish opposition in 2015 when they met UCD on their unlikely European odyssey.

Collie O'Neill's team lost to an injury-time goal in Slovakia, but were hammered on their own patch.

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