A DEJECTED and sweaty Cork City manager, John Caulfield, just like the rest of us, felt that his brave team will put last night’s narrow Europa League defeat to AEK Larnaca behind them immediately and concentrate their own domestic affairs.
City bowed out in the heat and humidity of Larnaca’s excellent AEK Arena by a goal-to-nil, losing 2-0 on aggregate, and it’s the cynical Cypriot side, who were up to their familiar antics again last night, who go through to play Dinamo Minsk here in Cyprus next week.
AEK repeated their first leg 1-0 win in Cork with an identical scoreline last evening in temperatures of 30 degrees plus and with humidity running at over 50% at game time even with the entire pitch in shade.
“We need to get back to basics right away and concentrate on our own league because that’s the league we can win and wrap things up with a few wins under our belt.
The big draw for me as manager and for the players is Champions’ League football next summer and that’s the target that wil drive us on in the coming weeks,” said Caulfield in the oven-hot media room under the main stand.
“Listen there’s no shame in losing to a quality side like AEK Larnaca. They are so good in possession and in their movement on and off the ball. Technically, they are very good and they probably deserved their win over the two legs. You’d have to say that over the two games they were the better side.
“What annoyed us was the fact that the winning goal was very much against the run of play and came at a time when we were enjoying our best period in the match. We felt it was another soft goal to gift them just like the one in Cork,” he added.
“They go on to play Dinamo Minsk at home next week and we will be busy preparing for the visit of Galway, still the only team to take points off us this season.
"It was an obvious penalty for me and we didn’t get it and I felt there was a sending off in there too because that was a horrible tackle on Conor McCormack.
"The two biggest decisions didn’t go our way and perhaps with a different referee they may well have,” said Caulfield as he reflected on what might have been here in Larnaca.