CORK CITY assistant manager John Cotter believes his side are as good as Cypriot opponents, AEK Larnaca and he is delighted to get the chance to prove it at the AEK Arena here in Cyprus tomorrow night (k.o 6p.m Irish time)
“The landscape in European football has changed in recent years for Irish clubs with the strides clubs like Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers and ourselves have made and we are really competing now at this level.
“It’s no longer a case of going out and trying to keep the score down. The Irish clubs are having a right go these days and w go out to compete and you are bitterly disappointed when you lose a game like we did against KR in Iceland, against Genk in Belgium last year and obviously last week when we lost narrowly at home to AEK in the first leg.
"We are all hoping that Seanie Maguire and Kevin O’Connor can leave us for Preston on a high tomorrow night at the end of the return leg. We got back to winning ways up at Bray and we got that first leg defeat out of the system and we got afresh tomorrow night,” said Cotter when he met the press.
Cotter said that Cork will play on the counter given the heat and humidity at kick-off time and they will have to be patient with limited possession.
“We’re a goal down so we have to try and retrieve the situation and get a goal back. We did reasonably well last week and if we keep doing what we do I think we can get the first goal here.
"We have defended well all year and we do that as a matter of habit at this stage. The key to it could be that we have to take our chances when they come about. I think we are as good as AEK and we know we can play better than we did in the first leg at Turner’s Cross a week ago,” he added.
“It doesn’t suit us to sit back and it’s in our nature to have a go. The lads are fit as fiddles and I honestly think we finished the first leg the stronger team. We may have to change or adjust our game plan a little but we will probably go with a 4-2-3-1 again as we did in Bray and it brought us a comfortable two-goal win away from home over the weekend.
"We will need to be patient again, try to get on the ball a bit more and play on the counter. It’s all about game management for us but the heat could be a big factor as well,” warned Cotter.
City have two slight injury concerns ahead of the game to left-back Kevin O’Connor and left-winger Stephen Dooley both of whom sat out Sunday’s league action at Bray Wanderers and all the travel to Cyprus will not help the injured stars.
“All the travelling and flights is no help to the two lads and as well as that we have to keep tabs on Alan Bennett who was only back for the Bray match after a month out injured.
It’s all above rest and recovery for this trio but thankfully the rest of the squad are all in good fettle and looking forward to the return leg,” added ‘Cotts’.
“We have been lucky so far this season in that even though we have had to change players around for games, we have still managed to keep our winning run going and we have nothing to lose against AEK here tomorrow night.
“We are all focused on the return match. It will be difficult to progress to the third round but it’s not beyond us. It’s been hot and sticky at home for the last few days and that might stand to us in Cyprus as well. It will be hot with the humidity running high at game time but we can deal with it and it’s important we don’t get bogged down with the weather,” he added.