Declan Devine has accused Trabzonspor of underestimating Derry City ahead of tonight’s Europa League tie at the Brandywell (7:45pm).
Last week in Trabzon the Candystripes shocked the Turks by coming from two goals behind to draw level with two precious away goals, goals which could still have an influence on the tie overall despite the 4-2 lead held by the visitors.
Derry City would progress on away goals with a 2-0 victory tonight and having watched his team frighten Trabzonspor in front of 20,000 partisan fans, Devine is confident that his team can cause a huge European shock.
“Our ambition going out there was to keep the tie alive,” he said.
“We have to be respectful of the fact that they are a top class side but at the same time I think we’re more than capable of getting a result.
“We were confident going out there of getting a result and I’m confident that if we can score two goals out there we can do the same at the Brandywell. We will have to defend very well on the night but there’s no reason why we can’t progress past this game.”
Devine has admitted his surprise at the vulnerability of the Turks’ defence, which was breached by David McDaid and then Paddy Kavanagh, and he admits his players possess more belief in an upset due to that uncertainty within the Trabzonspor back line.
“I think that was down to a bit of complacency from them,” he explained.
“They probably underestimated how good we can be. They certainly didn’t expect us to get two goals and the reality is that we were unlucky not to snatch another one late on. Our players deserve enormous credit for going out there and scoring two goals and they can take confidence from that.
Tonight’s game will be the first European game at the Brandywell since 2009, when they held CSKA Sofia to a 1-1 draw. City’s home record in Europe boasts some impressive statistics, with the Candy Stripes unbeaten at the Brandywell in Europe in six games with teams like IFK Gothenburg and Paris St Germain finding the ground a daunting experience.
The facilities at the Brandywell are long overdue a redevelopment, but on nights like these, they can be a help more than a hindrance from Derry City’s perspective.
“It’s massive for the city,” Devine continued.
“We’ve had to work hard to get back into European competition. The club has been reborn but it still has a good European history and the players have certainly got a taste for it this season.
“Players and coaches always want to test themselves against the best and we should all relish this. I would like all the supporters to come out and support what is a bunch of young players from the local area trying to do something special.”
Devine’s optimism is shared by experienced midfielder Ruaidhri Higgins, who has been part of some great European nights at the Brandywell, including those games against Gothenburg and Paris St Germain. Higgins played a key role in the first leg in Trabzon and he is now certain that the Candystripes can upset the odds with yet another famous victory.
“We’ve given ourselves a chance with two away goals,” he explained.
“We’re obviously disappointed with the goals we’ve conceded out there. The result could have been slightly better but we’re still in there with a chance and we’ll give it a go.
“They were hanging on at the end and that gives us hope going into the return leg. Hopefully it’s in the back of our minds the way we finished the game and they come here and show a bit of fear. If they do show any fear then hopefully we can capitalise on it.”
Kevin Deery and Rory Patterson will face late fitness tests before Devine names his starting eleven. Both players missed the first leg in Trabzon, but with Patterson visiting a specialist in Dublin this week to work on a troublesome back problem hopes are high that City’s top scorer at least will be a part of tonight’s game.