Memories of Dundalk’s trip to play CS Grevenmacher in 2010 came flooding back when the Lilywhites were paired against Jeunesse Esch in last Monday’s Europa League draw.
Four years ago, to the very day (July 1), Ian Foster’s Dundalk side made the trip to the Stade Josey Barthel Stadium in Luxembourg where they played out a thrilling 3-3 draw in the national stadium.
One of the goalscorers for Dundalk that night was Bosnian hit man Fahrudin Kuduzovic. Faz became the first Lilywhites player to score in Europe for 19 years with the opening goal in the away leg and he backed it up with the second goal in Dundalk’s 2-1 win at Oriel Park a week later.
Those two goals, added to 14 others in all competitions, meant Kuduzovic ended the season as Dundalk’s top scorer, earning him a move to German club Eintracht Trier in December 2010.
Trier is a German town, just 58km from Luxembourg city, and, speaking to The Dundalk Democrat from his home in Bosnia on the eve of Dundalk’s return to European action, Faz said it was his goal scoring exploits for the Lilywhites in Luxembourg that sealed his move to Germany.
“About a year before I signed for Dundalk I signed up with a German agent,” he explained. “When we got drawn against Grevenmacher, he invited three or four German teams to come out to watch me in the game in Luxembourg. I got invited to go on trial with some of them at the end of the Irish season and that’s how I ended up with Trier.”
Faz spent three enjoyable seasons with Trier, plying his trade in the Regionalliga Südwest but with the club cutting back on costs after failing to win promotion, he is now set for a move to the Luxembourg National Division.
“I wanted to stay with Trier,” he said. “I’m 30-years of age now and, my family are settled in the area and we love living here. Financially, though, Luxembourg will be very good and it’s not going to be too far away from Trier. I’ll consider what options are available when I get back to Germany next week.”
Grevenmacher did show an interest in his signature. As did Jeunesse Esch. How ironic it would have been if he had ended up facing his old club in the Europa League.
“It would have been fantastic to play against Dundalk and even better to get the chance to go back to Oriel Park for the second leg,” he said. “Jeunesse were in contact with me about a month and a half ago but I won’t be signing for them. Maybe next season I’ll get a chance to play Dundalk,” he said.
Looking back on the game with Grevenmacher, Kuduzovic said he was impressed by Dundalk’s opponents. One other thing that sticks in his memory was the heat in the Stade Josey Barthel, something which Dundalk will have to encounter again when they take to the field at 5.45pm local time this evening.
“I recall myself and Neale Fenn talking about how well Grevenmacher played, particularly the tactical approach they took. I was surprised when people were saying afterwards that they were a terrible team because I thought they were pretty good. We started very well in Luxembourg and went 3-1 up but the heat really caught up with us in the last half hour.”
Dundalk progressed on that occasion but Kuduzovic expects the Lilywhites to face a much stiffer examination this time out.
“Football in Luxembourg is almost identical to the League of Ireland,” he said. “There are four or five teams who are really good and Jeunesse are one of the best.
“If Dundalk let them settle and have the ball then they will cause serious problems. It’s important that Dundalk play at a high tempo and they have a definite advantage that they are in the middle of their season while Jeunesse are in pre-season.”
The Jeunesse danger man is a fellow country man of Kuduzovic. He also owns a famous surname.
“I’ve spoken to Sanel Ibrahimovic in the past. He played Futsal with the Bosnian national team in the past. He’s not too physical but he’s tricky and Dundalk will have to keep an eye on him.”