Saturday 16 December 2017

Stephen Kenny: Dundalk Champions League run a boost for small clubs

Stephen Kenny believes Dundalk's Champions League run will give hope to European minnows
Stephen Kenny believes Dundalk's Champions League run will give hope to European minnows

Manager Stephen Kenny believes Dundalk will give hope to every small club in Europe if they can continue their Champions League fairytale and qualify for the group stages.

Ahead of one of the biggest club games in a generation in Ireland, Kenny insists his players would not be overawed when they face Polish champions Legia Warsaw in Dublin on Wednesday night.

He urged his players to enjoy the occasion at the Aviva Stadium and play without fear.

Kenny revealed he had been told that Dundalk, the Irish league and cup double winners last season, were the lowest-ranked team ever to make it to the play-off tie for the group stages.

"Were we to progress that would really be a sensational result and would give hope to every club in Ireland and every small club in Europe," he said.

Kenny felt the sensational victory over Belarusian champions Bate Borisov in the last round proved that smaller clubs could overcome the odds.

Dundalk overturned a 1-0 deficit in the away leg with a convincing 3-0 victory at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin.

Kenny said: "What we represent is that football is a meritocracy and any football team can beat any other team over two legs and we have shown the ability to punch above our weight at this level.

"We want to show that over the two legs and create a massive result for football in Ireland - transform the landscape of football in Ireland by getting a result that will really give confidence to every player in Ireland."

Around 24,000 tickets have already been sold for the first leg clash against Legia. The return fixture is in Poland next week.

Kenny insists Dundalk will not underestimate Legia and added: "We know Legia have got good players and obviously international players and we respect that.

"But we don't suffer from an inferiority complex ourselves and certainly we will be concentrating on our own strengths and trying to win the game."

Despite defeats in their last two domestic outings, Dundalk captain Stephen O'Donnell echoed his manager's confidence.

"They'll probably go into the tie as favourites but we have a lot of faith in our own ability and if we can execute a performance we should be very competitive," said the midfielder.

Press Association

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