Nathan Oduwa featured twice against Wednesday’s opponents NK Celje during his time at Olimpija Ljubljana and was a winner on both occasions. Now he is hoping to make it three in-a-row when Dundalk take on the Slovenian champions in Hungary on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old Englishman made 22 appearances during a 17 month spell in Slovenia from February 2017 to July 2018.
That included two matches against Celje – a 3-1 win in which he popped up with an assist on the opening game of the 2017/18 campaign and a 2-1 win when he last went head to head with them in February 2018.
While Oduwa describes Celje as a “bogey side” for Olimpija, they in fact never lost to Dusan Kosic’s side during his time there – drawing three of the other league matches against them that he didn’t feature in and beating them over two legs in the Cup.
Nevertheless, the former Tottenham Hotspur winger saw enough of Celje during his time there to know that they cannot be taken lightly on Wednesday.
“Not a lot of people know about the Slovenian league other than maybe a little bit about Maribor, who usually dominate the league.
“The team who we have been drawn against were kind of like a bogey team for the team I played with in Slovenia.
“They’re a very good side technically and like to keep the ball. They can’t be underestimated but if we work hard and regroup as a team then I’m sure we’ll have no problems.”
Oduwa featured for the second half of Friday’s 2-2 draw with Waterford FC at Oriel Park and made a good impression on the whole. While the result was not what Dundalk wanted, he is hoping he has done enough to force his way into Vinny Perth’s thoughts for Wednesday.
“Personally, it was good to get minutes. I’m happy to be out on the field but obviously the team is not really in a great spot at the minute.
“We’ll look at ourselves in the mirror, regroup and go again tomorrow though.
“Dundalk are such a big club in this league so to be drawing and dropping points is not good but all I can do is try to look at it as an opportunity.”
Oduwa is also hopeful that the spirit showed in fighting back to gain a point on Friday can be a turning point for the side after a difficult restart to the league.
“100%. One point is better than no points. It’s just a shame that we couldn’t get all three points towards the end but it gives us something to build on.
“It shows we’ve got good fighting spirit to come back and we’ll be ready for Wednesday,” he said.