Gent's head coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck celebrates after winning. Alamy Stock Photo

Gent boss praises 'solid' Shamrock Rovers and pays tribute to Irish football fans

Hein Vanhaezebrouck was impressed by the vocal travelling support.

GENT BOSS Hein Vanhaezebrouck had words of praise for Shamrock Rovers despite seeing his side earn a comprehensive 3-0 win over their Irish opponents in the Europa Conference League on Thursday night.

Asked to assess the Hoops’ performance, the 58-year-old coach said: “It’s a good team. We were very lucky to be very efficient. Out of the first chance we scored and the second goal was an error of theirs. We pressed them and they lost the ball and we finished it really well. It’s not our habit to score so often so easily. Normally we miss a lot of chances, today we scored very easily on the three, four, five occasions we had, that’s all.

“So they played a good game, it’s a solid team. Maybe the only thing is that in the first half, they didn’t hurt us too much. Then at the end of the game, they got a few good chances where our ‘keeper saved us. I wouldn’t say he kept us in the game because it was 3-0 but allowed us to keep the clean sheet.

“But it’s a solid team. I’m now already aware of the fact that when we go over there, it will be a difficult game and Djurgardens won against Molde, who are a good team, we played against them. And if you see that Djurgardens could not win in Ireland, that shows the quality of the Shamrock Rovers.

“For me, I don’t agree with the argument that it’s not the best team. We played Sunday against Zulte Waregem and we had a much easier game than today.”

While the victory has left Gent in a strong position to qualify as they sit on four points and top of Group F ahead of Djurgardens on goal difference, Vanhaezebrouck said much work still needed to be done as they aim to secure qualification to the knockout stages.

“We have to play two times Djurgardens, they won against Molde, so it’s a good team. They’re number three I think in Sweden [last season], but the Swedish competition is not very weak. It’s a good competition, so to be number three, close to the leader, I think those two games will be probably decisive for one of the two teams.

“We play two times Djurgardens, which of the teams succeeds in taking four or six [points], I think that’s a candidate to go on in the first two in our group. If it’s a draw, they could maybe profit out of it with Shamrock Rovers — the first game is in Molde I think, that will be a difficult one on synthetic [pitch], that will be difficult to play.”

The experienced coach also paid tribute to the travelling Shamrock Rovers fans who filled out the away section of the ground in contrast with the many empty seats elsewhere.

“Congratulations to fans of the Shamrock Rovers. They stayed here yesterday in Gent, behaving fantastically well, enjoying themselves but creating no problems at all. So really I want to appreciate the way they are coming to Belgium, it’s an example for everyone and congratulations that they are here with a thousand people. They must feel the crisis in Ireland less than in Belgium, because we only got 6,000 of our own fans in the stadium, which is not a lot.”
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