A thrilling 3-3 draw away at KuPS in Finland last week resulted in a narrow aggregate victory that has set up a Europa Conference League third qualifying round tie against Kazakhstan’s FC Tobol Kostanay which will start off with an epic journey east for this Thursday’s first leg.
While the Candystripes will hold out hopes of battling their way through to the play-off round of the competition, former Republic of Ireland international Keith Treacy and ex-St Patrick’s Athletic manager Johnny McDonnell have both warned that a tough examination awaits against FC Tobol.
“I hope they don’t just take a broad view of it and think, ‘we should be able to beat this lot on paper’, because that’s a dangerous view,” Treacy told the RTÉ Soccer Podcast of a club that are sixth in the Kazakhstan Premier League, having managed a top three finish last season.
“(Tobol) beat Basel over two legs. They’re a decent team.
“This is not going to be an easy game for Derry so I’m willing and I’m hoping that they do it because over the last two weeks or so since Europe has started, the Irish (teams) have taken a little bit of a battering.”
McDonnell agreed that it will be “a difficult tie” for Ruaidhri Higgins’ side beyond just the arduous length of the journey, considering that Tobol have some international players within their ranks.
But he pointed to the recent recruitment of Scottish winger Paul McMullan as a boon for Derry given how quickly he has adapted to his new club.
“He’s been a great acquistion and he’s settled in really quickly,” McDonnell said.
“They’ve been down a few players over the last while as well. You talk about (Michael) Duffy coming back, getting a goal (at KuPS), so they’re only going to get stronger.
“Hopefully with the additions of McMullan and the players coming back from injury that they can go to Kazakhstan and get a result.
“But it won’t be easy. It’s been disappointing that (Shamrock) Rovers, Dundalk and St Pat’s went out, but especially for the (UEFA) co-efficient for next year as well and for the finances of the clubs also.
“But it will be a difficult tie for (Derry) out there.
“As Keith said, (Tobol) are sixth in the table but I think Derry have added well with McMullan coming in and the squad is strengthened now and they’re nearly back to full strength. So it will definitely give them a chance.”Tags: