Underdog status suits Students
UCD coach Evan McMillan believes that nothing, not even a delay on their departure to Luxembourg for tonight's Europa League tie, will affect the confidence of the young Students side.
The First Division outfit take on F91 Dudelange in Luxembourg today (5pm, Irish time) holding a 1-0 lead from the home leg, and while a place in Europe (won via the Fair Play league) was an unexpected bonus, progress to the second round - and a likely meeting with Slovan Bratislava - UCD have no plans to exit Europe early.
"We know what's at stake and we know if we score early out here we have a massive opportunity," McMillan, part of Collie O'Neill's coaching staff, told The Herald after the College squad arrived - eventually - in Luxembourg.
"We had a late flight out, there was some problem with the first plane we had at Dublin airport yesterday and we had to wait four hours to get a new one, it meant we had to delay training but it's not a problem for these players.
"Someone asked Collie, our manager, last week if the players were nervous, but if they are, they don't show it. They are excited, this is a new experience for them, even the idea of travelling away for a European tie is new to them, but they are taking it all in their stride. Even at the airport in Dublin, no one complained when the plane was late, they just get on with it.
"We are trying to make history for the league but for the club as well, UCD have never gone through a round in Europe before so we'd love to be the team that changes that."
"I've been in European games before where we were expected to go through, but with UCD we are definitely the underdogs.
"We're not afraid to say that and we know it's a massive challenge for us. The team we are up against have had another week's training and a friendly game since we played them so they'll be sharper for the second leg," added McMillan, who joined the UCD staff having left Sligo Rovers at the end of last season.
A Euro veteran with Sligo and St Pats, McMillan knows that UCD face a battle despite that 1-0 lead.
"We have been trying to predict that Dudelange do, I can't see them go gung-ho at us, if they do that and concede they are in trouble. I think it will be quite cagey early on but the longer the game goes without a score the better for us.
"They need to score so it depends on when they go for it but if keep them to 0-0 for an hour, we have the players who can punish them on the break."
F91 Dudelange v ucd, 5pm