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'They better be ready': McDermott says Linfield must keep cool heads in Baku cauldron


Wise head: Mick McDermott knows all about Azerbaijan
Wise head: Mick McDermott knows all about Azerbaijan

By Billy Weir

A man who knows Azerbaijan football well has warned Linfield that they are stepping into a cauldron in Baku.

Glentoran manager Mick McDermott spent a good deal of his coaching career in neighbouring Iran and knows all too well the dirty tricks that some teams use to unsettle their visitors.

"I do know they are stepping into a cauldron over there, they better be ready for that," he warned ahead of Linfield's crucial Europa League play-off second leg clash with Qarabag.

"It's going to be a massive battle over there in terms of the environment they are going into, stuff outside the pitch, in the hotels, the buses and the visas.

"I've worked in that part of the world. I know what they can do to you when you land out there, they are going to have to be strong off the pitch from the day they arrive to the match."

Linfield and Glentoran are not usually the friendliest of bedfellows, but McDermott has put local rivalries aside for the common good of improving Northern Ireland's co-efficient in the Uefa rankings.

"I sent a message to their manager (David Healy) to congratulate him (after the first leg), I think it's brilliant what they are doing for local football," added McDermott, who was assistant coach to Carlos Queiroz, Sir Alex Ferguson's deputy at Manchester United, in his time as Iran national team manager.

McDermott also coached Esteghlal FC in Tehran, as well as in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and knows Linfield's slender one-goal advantage from the first leg at Windsor Park makes it tough.

"If it had finished at 3-1 it would have been brilliant, but at 3-2 it gives Qarabag some belief that they only have to win 1-0," he concluded.

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