Bodø/Glimt keeper insists his side have the big game experience to thwart Linfield
Bodø/Glimt goalkeeper Nikita Haikin believes his side’s positive experiences in Europe last season against Celtic and Jose Mourinho’s Roma will help them turn around their deficit to Linfield in the Champions League tomorrow night.
The Blues won the first leg of the second qualifying round tie 1-0 last week thanks to a stunning late goal from Kirk Millar after he capitalised on a defensive error. Linfield now know that if they can avoid defeat in Norway, they will continue their journey in the world’s most prestigious club competition and guarantee themselves a history-making place in the group stages of European football.
Reaching the third qualifying round of the Champions League on Wednesday evening would mean the least David Healy’s side will gain from their continental adventure this season is entry into the Europa Conference League group phase.
It is a huge incentive, though it is the same for Bodø/Glimt who shocked the sport last term by qualifying for the Quarter-Finals of the Europa Conference League. On the way they hammered Roma 6-1 at home in the group section and in the knockout rounds defeated Celtic home and away, then overcoming AZ Alkmaar before Mourinho exacted revenge in the last-eight.
Russian goalkeeper Haikin impressed for Bodø/Glimt then and is hungry to experience more glory nights in Europe, starting at home to the Irish League champions in the return leg.
Asked if last season’s escapade will help against Linfield, Haikin told the Belfast Telegraph: “Yes, I believe so. Those were really tough games. It is a fantastic experience to have in your bag.
“We have been in these situations before. We don’t really focus on results. We are focusing on performance and what we can improve on. We will definitely give our absolute best.”
Like in the first leg, Linfield are expected to be without the ball for long periods.
Haikin added: “We dominated the whole game (at Windsor Park) however at this level in qualification there is no room for mistakes. I didn’t feel that Linfield troubled us even though they are a hard-working team. We had full control but one mistake cost us. That’s what happens. There is no mercy.”