Filippo Giovagnoli was in a positive mood ahead of Thursday’s Europa League group match between Dundalk FC and Molde, insisting that there is absolutely zero room for nervousness.
Dundalk’s head coach, instead, wants his players to prove to the world that they belong at a stage which will see them encounter Molde, Arsenal and Rapid Vienna in the coming weeks.
“It’s a big privilege and we are really excited to be here,” said Giovagnoli. “We just hope to do well and to make the fans and the town happy for all the support they are giving us.
“We want to get points everywhere, to perform, do well, be competitive and show everyone that Dundalk deserves to be there and they can perform at a high level. This is our objective.
“We’re not going to be nervous. We had a problem with this in the play-off when we played KI. Now, I think we’re going to perform because we are more relaxed and have nothing to lose. We just need to do well and show that we can compete at this level.”
Giovagnoli, along with Giuseppe Rossi and Shane Keegan, has been relentlessly studying Molde since the group stage draw was made three weeks ago. Their most recent scouting assignment involved watching the Norwegian champions beat Bodo/Glimt 4-2 last weekend.
“We watched this game and I think they did well,” Giovagnoli continued. “We know what their strengths are and what their weaknesses are, but we studied more than one game, so just the last game is not enough. We saw what didn’t work for them and we are preparing our strategy.”
Asked if his side are confident heading into tonight’s match, he proclaimed: “Yes, because I see them (his players) work every day. I can see them perform in practice. I can see they are ready for this difficult task, so I feel really positive that we’re going to have a really important performance. Usually, when we perform well, something good will happen in terms of the result, so I am really positive.”
Giovagnoli also reiterated that tonight, his players will need to leave emotions at their collective doorstep and instead just focus on playing an efficient 90 minutes of football.
“It’s important that we control our emotions or we’re not going to perform, especially when you want to control the game, when you want to have the ball and possess. If you are not relaxed, then this is going to affect the technique, the first touch, the quality and accuracy of the pass. When you are tense, you can’t perform like that.
“Maybe you can be aggressive, but then on the ball, you’re not going to perform well, so we really need to be calm and emotionally composed and just focus on the tactical and technical tasks and try to play the way that we want to play.”
Ahead of tonight’s game, the only players from Dundalk’s squad that are doubtful to feature are Nathan Oduwa and Daniel Kelly – both of whom limped off in a league fixture against Bohemians last weekend. Apart from that, The Lilywhites have no fresh injury concerns.