Dundalk boss Filippo Giovagnoli has called on his side to repeat their performance against Sheriff Tiraspol when they face Molde in their Europa League Group B opener at Tallaght Stadium on Thursday night (kick-off 5.55pm, live on Virgin Media).
The penalty shoot-out victory away to the Moldovan champions was the best display of the Italian’s brief tenure at Oriel Park to date and he feels they will need to reach similar levels if they are to get their group stage campaign off to a flyer against Erling Moe’s side on Thursday.
“Points can come from all over the place. It depends on how you perform,” he said when asked if the home tie against the lowest of the group’s three other sides represented the best chance of a result.
“If you think about what we did in Sheriff, there we did something unbelievable. We had an unbelievable performance as a team together and we need this kind of performance to try to get points in the group stage because we’re playing against really strong teams. We’ll need to perform at a high level,” he said.
Giovagnoli admitted his concern about the number of matches Dundalk were forced to play in and around their European games.
Thursday’s game will be their fourth in nine days with a trip to the RSC to face Waterford FC (kick-off 2pm) set to follow on Sunday before they travel to the Emirates to face Arsenal on Thursday week.
“I don’t think it’s natural to play three games a week for four or five weeks consecutively,” said the 49-year-old.
“This is not even human for the players. You can’t play three games consecutively. You can play two games consecutively and maybe then if you don’t perform it’s normal for a player. It is really complicated but we’re going to face this challenge with the players and try to perform every game, which I think we are doing.
“We have to work really well on recovery and discuss with them what their life has to be outside of here. We have to think about how we manage sessions and this is what a manager has to do together with the medical staff.”
Daniel Kelly (knee) and Nathan Oduwa (hamstring) are doubts for Dundalk having limped out of Friday night’s 0-0 draw at home to Bohemians.
Giovagnoli said he was happy with the display despite failing to score for the third successive home game.
“It was a complicated game against Bohemians. They’re a really good team. I think we had a good approach and were aggressive. Overall I’m happy with the performance.
“We can be a little bit more fluid in possession and some decisions were forced but that is part of the game. I’m happy. We’re still working to perform every game but it’s not going to be easy between now and the end of the season when we’re playing every three days but we know that and you guys know that.
“The positive is that we’ve started to be really solid defensively and really organised. A couple of injuries created a tactical problem for me because I had two injuries in two right wingers. They’re the same player almost and that was not the plan but you have to face the challenge that you have.
“We had chances to score. The evaluation at the end of the game always changes by result. I have to be really focused on not changing my evaluation, technical and tactical. by the result but by the performance and how you did with the ball and without the ball. Then I’d hope to help the team in training realise where we need to implement and improve things,” he said.