Kenny: Dundalk won't be feeling inferior to bate
There may be a sense of envy, but no inferiority complex, for Dundalk when they face up to the task of getting past Champions League experts BATE Borisov next month.
When the draw was made at UEFA HQ in Switzerland for the qualifying rounds of the Champions League, Dundalk knew they would face one of four Scandinavian sides, Celtic, or BATE Borisov, the nightmare draw which came to pass as Dundalk's fans and staff now face the logistic of obtaining visas for the first leg in Borisov in three weeks' time.
And red tape is already an issue as Dundalk were last night working hard to secure a visa to allow their scout attend BATE's league game next Friday.
Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny has a history, a happy one, with that club. Twelve years ago, Kenny's Bohemians side overcame a 1-0 defeat from the away leg to beat BATE 3-0 and progress in the Champions League.
But the Belarus outfit have been completely transformed since then and have reached the group stages of the Champions League four times in the last seven seasons while providing a large chunk of the national team's squad.
"It's the toughest draw we could have got, but we'll prepare well and have a belief in ourselves. We had a great experience in Europe last season and that has given the players a lot of confidence for this campaign," manager Kenny told The Herald.
"We won't have an inferiority complex going out to play them even though BATE are ranked way ahead of all the other teams we could have drawn, they have the highest co-efficient of all the teams we could have met because they have been in the Champions League so often."
Kenny recalls that win for Bohs over the Belarus side in 2003 and admires how they have progressed since then, BATE using their Euro proceeds to build a brand-new stadium which opened last year.
"A club like BATE are a great example to all Irish clubs, really: how a medium-sized club has reached the group stages in Europe five years in the last seven. And they did that by using indigenous players, they didn't pack the squad with Brazilians, they have 14 members of the national team squad on the books," says Kenny.
"That's a model for Irish clubs to become successful, they have managed to keep their best players at home and have success in the Champions League, with some big wins over the years."
But Kenny is not intent on conceding the tie to BATE, talking up his own side's ability. "This season, in all competitions we've had 20 wins, 2 draws and one defeat, our form has been exceptional so that gives us confidence as does our form in Europe last year where we won three games out of four," he says.
"Our players, like Andy Boyle, Richie Towell and Daryl Horgan, are at at exceptional standard and would not be out of place in an international set-up.
"We have to go away first, we will prepare accordingly. Gerry Spain, our match analyst, has access to information on BATE from a Premier League club in England and if we can get the visa, we'll send Gerry to see them play at home on Friday. If we can get their embassy to answer the phone," he laughs.