Dundalk set for 'epic battle' and soaring temperatures in finely-balanced Europa League tie

Stephen Kenny’s side are in Cyprus to take on AEK Larnaca, having held them to a scoreless draw at Oriel Park.

AEK's Igor Silva and Chris Shields of Dundalk during the first leg.
AEK's Igor Silva and Chris Shields of Dundalk during the first leg.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

THIS AFTERNOON’S EUROPA League qualifier second leg between Dundalk and Larnaca could be an epic, according to Lilywhites boss Stephen Kenny.

The Airtricity League leaders visit the AEK Arena (4.30pm kick-off, live on eir Sport 1) knowing an away goal could be priceless having resisted the Cypriots’ threat in last week’s scoreless draw.

“We’re very excited about the game,” Kenny said. “It’s very finely tuned, it’s in the balance. Larnaca, obviously, have good European pedigree.

“They will feel in the ascendency being the home team and having got a draw in Ireland, but we certainly don’t feel that way. We feel we’re in for an epic battle really and I think it’s still very much in the balance.

“We’ll have to put in a big performance in the heat and see if we can get through.”

But Dundalk’s excellent away European record provides them with plenty of comfort. The Louth side have scored in every away ground, and in 10 of their 11 visits to the continent, since 2014.

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny acknowledges the fans Dundalk Stephen Kenny. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Yet Kenny has talked down the significance of this record, insisting that earning the result is of more importance than maintaining the run.

“The players, to their credit, have been very consistent and have shown the capacity to score goals away from home which is critical and we need more of that overall.

But we need a result, it’s not just enough to score, we need a result and hopefully we can get it.

“We’re very determined to try and win. We worked very hard to beat Levadia Tallinn to get here and we want to stay in the competition.”

Temperatures are expected to soar this afternoon, climbing above 30 degrees Celsius. Should the heat reach 33 degrees, water breaks are allowed with Uefa delegates set to monitor the situation ahead of kick-off.

However, Kenny has downplayed the impact of the conditions and feels his players can adapt.

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“We’re not going to get hung up on the heat,” he added. “We respect Larnaca as a team themselves. We’ll adapt accordingly and there’s a few clouds today so it’s not as bad.”

Sean Gannon trained with the rest of the squad last night and is in contention to return after two matches out through injury.

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