Belfast Telegraph

Solid display ahead of title defence is Crusaders goal: Sean O'Neill

By Graham Luney

Sean O'Neill says there is no chance of Crusaders' confidence being dented if they suffer a heavy loss to FC Copenhagen tonight.

The Crues trail 3-0 following the first leg of the Champions League qualifier, so it's likely the travelling party to Denmark has damage limitation on their minds.

Stephen Baxter's side did create some goalscoring opportunities against their classy opponents and they plan to return home with their heads held high after producing a good performance at the 38,000 capacity Telia Parken Stadium.

"We will likely go out of the Champions League but no-one expected us to make the group stages and the experience of playing against these top sides can be very beneficial," admitted the Crues number one.

"Any defeat will not dent confidence as you have to consider the standard of opposition.

"We won't face a side as strong or as dangerous as Copenhagen again this season.

"Hopefully we can put in a good performance and even score but we are building towards the start of our title defence and that is what matters."

Federico Santander, Andreas Cornelius and Rasmus Falk netted in the first leg of the second qualifying round tie, leaving the north Belfast side with a mountain to climb in Denmark.

"Copenhagen are the best team I have faced," said O'Neill who has adandoned any thoughts of also playing gaelic football with Antrim.

"I knew they would be good but I was surprised how quickly they moved the ball around and they never let us settle into any rhythm.

"Sometimes when you play in Europe other teams let you have the ball but they pressed us very well and I think everyone was impressed with their ability. They really are a top class side.

"You never want to lose or go out of a tournament but we have to learn from these matches.

"It's great for the new players in the squad to get to know the other boys and we've already had the trip to Wales to play a friendly.

"The boys can stake a claim for a place in the team and show the manager what they can do.

"Stephen (Baxter) did his transfer business early and he's added real quality to the squad this summer."

Last Saturday Copenhagen kicked off their Danish title defence with a 3-0 home win over Lyngby.

Crues boss Baxter says he always knew his side were facing an awesome challenge.

"Their team is littered with internationals of a really high quality," he said.

"They have players who came in for millions of pounds, compared to us who are on a small budget."

FC Copenhagen


2nd Qualifying Rnd, 2nd leg (Agg 3-0):

Parken Stadium, Tonight, 6.15pm

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph