While most of the country was tuned into Republic of Ireland’s match with Bulgaria on Thursday night to see how Stephen Kenny got on in his first game in charge, new Dundalk interim head coach Filippo Giovagnoli was taking in another game.
After confirmation last week that the Lilywhites would travel to Andorra for their Europa League qualifier with Inter Club d’Escalades on Thursday September 17th, the Italian opted instead to watch Latvia’s match with Andorra in Riga.
With four of the Inter Club players involved, including goalkeeper Josep Gomes who saved a penalty from Jānis Ikaunieks midway through the second half, Giovagnoli is leaving nothing to chance ahead of the meeting between the sides at the Estadi Comunal.
While most people make Dundalk red hot favourites given Inter Club only played their first European match when they lost to Drita in the Champions League qualifiers, Giovagnoli warned that Adolfo Baines’ side could not be taken for granted given the experience many of their players have at international level.
“We super respect them because they’re a team with a lot of expertise,” he told The Argus on Friday.
“They’ve a lot of players who’ve had good careers. They know what they are doing. Yesterday (Thursday) I watched the national team Andorra and they tied with Latvia. They had four players who play with Inter Club d’Escaldes so it’s not going to be easy. We have to perform to our best level if we want to go through.
“They have many players with international experience and when you play a team with that sort of experience you have to really perform. If you don’t perform well then you’ll have a problem so we have to keep our intensity really high, our energy and our aggressiveness and then if we figure out what we have to do then we can go through.”
A victory for Dundalk would see them face Moldovan champions Sheriff Tiraspol away in the next round but Giovagnoli said his side could not afford to look that far ahead.
“I’m not thinking about Sheriff. Only Shelbourne on Friday and then Inter Club.
“You have to be a little bit lucky as well because it’s only one game. If it was home and away then you’d feel more confident but now it’s just one game, an away game, so you have to be perfect.”
The 49-year-old said his side would depart two days before the game on September 17th (kick-off 6.30pm) and said it was “super exciting” for him and assistant Giuseppe Rossi to have Europa League football to prepare for.
“We are having fun. We want to do well. We are really excited by this but we’re enjoying the work and spending time with the players,” he said.