Shiels urges Derry City players to repay devoted fans
Derry City are hoping to score a massive upset when they face Danish side FC Midtjylland at the MCH Arena in the first qualifying round of the Europa League tonight (7pm).
Candystripes boss Kenny Shiels admits that the players are excited by the challenge ahead.
"The boys are up for it which is good," he said from the club's base in Herning. "Their focus is now entirely on the game. It will be a tough challenge but it's a great opportunity for the players at the same time. We visited the stadium last night and the players are really looking forward to it. We worked hard to get here and we want to make it memorable."
Shiels paid tribute to the fans that made the trip, insisting that the players are keen to make it an enjoyable one.
"We appreciate the efforts those fans have put in and we really hope that we can put on a performance for them," he said. "We hope we can pay them back for their terrific support because it is not easy to drop everything at such short notice and come this far. It's really good that they were able to do that and we hope we can pay them back with a memorable experience.
"The boys are going to do their best. They are up for everything. Putting on a good performance is the most important thing for us. We want to play with commitment and hopefully enough quality to keep the tie alive ahead of the second leg. We want a full house for the second leg in Sligo next week because we want to go on to the next round."
Derry remain massive underdogs despite the words of optimism from Shiels with Midtjylland expected to progress over the two legs. But the Candystripes have upset the odds before in Europe, with the memory of their wins over IFK Gothenburg in 2006 still fresh in the memory.
Shiels will be without both Conor McDermott and Barry McNamee, who will miss the game through injury, but he remains confident that his team can stand up and be counted.
"We have to be positive," he said. "We have to do that, and we have to be realistic.
"If we can mix those two energies, being positive and being realistic as well as being committed, just as we have been doing all season, then we will be able to get the best out of each other and that's how we can do well."