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Thursday 23 November 2017

Rosenborg boss believes Bendtner key for them us in Euro test

Nicklas Bendtner. Photo: PA Wire
Nicklas Bendtner. Photo: PA Wire

It's a clash of cultures, of sorts, at Oriel Park tonight as a club with only minimal experience of the group stages of European competition take on a side who really are old stagers when it comes to the group phase.

And even though Rosenborg, who have qualified for the group phase of the Champions League or Europa League on no fewer than 15 occasions, fully expect to breeze past those one-timers Dundalk and move into the third round of the Champions League at least, the Norwegians have done their homework on the side they'll face in Oriel Park this evening.

Current boss Kåre Ingebrigtsen had just taken over a crisis-ridden Rosenborg side when they just-about got past Sligo Rovers in the Europa League in 2014, and he already knows that this Dundalk outfit will be a good bit better than the Bit O'Red

"Everybody knows we have seen them, they are a really good team," says Ingebrigtsen of this Dundalk side.

"They are a team who played in the Europa League last year, they are doing really well and dominating here with Cork.

"It's definitely a team that is used to winning and controlling games, so it's a tough opponent."

While Dundalk have only one appearance in the group phase to show for their European exertions, Rosenborg are very used to this stage, though they were knocked out of both the Champions League and then Europa League last season.

"We know that it's really difficult to come into the group stages. You have to be lucky, it's marginal in the games. Our ambition is to get into the group stages," says the Norwegian coach, a team-mate of Niall Quinn at Manchester City in the early 1990s.

"The last year was in 2015, it's time for it again. We really want to go back into it again, to test ourselves against the good teams in Europe."

Rosenborg have some tasty talent in their panel, including captain and Danish international Mike Jensen, but a lot of focus this evening will be on an ex-Gunner, Nicklas Bendtner, who joined Rosenborg earlier this year after a long spell in England and stints in Germany and Italy.

"We are really happy with Nicklas, he's come into the group and he's been really good for us," says the boss.

"He's a fantastic guy and with his experience, he's an important player for us at this stage. Always when you come into the group you need time, we have seen that he's become better and better the last few weeks and hopefully he continues to improve and be a really important player for us."

Less than 100 away fans will be in the sold-out crowd of 3,111 tonight, the Norwegians wary of the noise. "It's friendly but it's loud, that's good," says Ingebrigtsen.

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