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Thursday 8 December 2016

John Caulfield has Euro vision for Cork City

John Caulfield
John Caulfield

THEY have ambitions of making progress in the competition, but for some at Cork City the fact that the club are back in Europe after a painful seven-year absence is a sign of how far the club have come.

City, who famously held Bayern Munich to a draw in the UEFA Cup back in 1991, probably spoiled their supporters with a steady diet of European football - and wins - throughout the last decade, 26 Euro ties in the 2000s.

But since their last foray into UEFA competition, a 6-2 loss to Finnish side Haka in 2008, the club have gone through turmoil and relegation, so while a defeat of Icelandic side KR over two legs, starting at home tonight (7.45) would be welcome, many are glad just to see Europe again.

"The challenge, when we took over, was to get up the table but I think in my opening press conference after I was appointed I was targeting European football," says City boss John Caulfield ahead of tonight's tie at home to KR.

"We have all had fantastic nights in Europe, I know I did as a player, I was in Europe for a long time, the same as a supporter in the 2000s. It's been missing a long time and it's great to be back, to have that buzz back again," added Caulfield.

KR have been to Ireland before, as Shelbourne narrowly squeezed pact the Reykjavik club on the start of their Champions Leaguer run in 2004, and Caulfleld has done his homework.

"I know a lot about them," he says.

POSITIVE

"We have done a lot of work on them, particularly in the last three or four days.

"And we know what we have to do to get a positive result. The money on offer from Europe is very big so we have a real opportunity here but we will have to be on top of our game to get something."

Caulfield has some tasty nights in Europe as a player with City, including that memorable battle with Bayern, (their draw with the Germans is still the best-ever result by an Irish side in Europe, Caulfield maintains) but he admits that the focus has changed, where now it's all about making progress, with a cheque for €200,000 coming Cork's way should they get past KR. "That (Bayern) was a different era and the chances of an Irish club drawing one of the top-four clubs in the world are gone, that was our bonus and we approached it more like a holiday," he added.

Cork cope without John Kavanagh while fellow defender John Dunleavy is a major doubt, but Colin Healy returns to the side after a domestic suspension.

Cork City v K REYKJAVIKUR (Iceland)

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