Belfast Telegraph

Ronald Koeman remains hopeful of Europa League qualification

Ronald Koeman insists Southampton can still fight for Europa League qualification despite Tuesday's lacklustre 2-0 loss at Bournemouth.

The frustrated Saints boss will show his below-par squad a video lowlights reel of the Premier League loss at Dean Court, in a bid to drive his men back on track.

Saints host Sunderland on Saturday with Koeman warning his men to expect another clash against a side scrapping for everything in a bid to steer clear of relegation.

"The situation is not good but it's still not too late, but then we have to recognise and then we have to react and understand how you have to start again," said Koeman.

"It's still not too late for Europe but we have a tough one this Saturday.

"Sunderland are fighting against relegation, so we expect the same kind of opponent again now.

"We have to learn from Tuesday night.

"Normally I try to defend my players but I cannot from Tuesday.

"I told them after the match but they will understand, they are not stupid.

"And we will show them video clips to make sure they are not in any doubt."

Steve Cook and Benik Afobe grabbed the goals as the Cherries pulled off their first home league win over local rivals Saints since 1958.

Southampton boss Koeman now believes Bournemouth will beat the drop.

"Yes I think they will stay up," said Koeman.

"They are much better than some teams in the Premier League.

"They are aggressive, and showing spirit. They play good football, offensive football and can defend well too."

Bournemouth moved eight points clear of the drop zone courtesy of their first win in five matches in all competitions.

Cherries manager Eddie Howe continues to insist he has not set a points target on safety, claiming he is unsure what tally would secure survival.

Bournemouth make the long trip to Newcastle on Saturday, where another victory would further solidify their Premier League standing.

Hitman Afobe's fourth goal since his January switch from Wolves secured Bournemouth's win over Saints on Tuesday night, leaving Howe tipping the 23-year-old for an extended run of form.

"We look at the next game as all we can focus on," said Howe.

"It's going to be an intimidating atmosphere up there, at St James's Park.

"I don't know how many points it will take for teams to stay up, I don't know what it will be.

"We just want to get as many points as quickly as we can.

"We know it's all about us picking up points, but it does help when other teams around us don't get results.

"And I was really pleased to see Benik score.

"They decide games and it could be important to have him in form and sharp in front of goal."


From Belfast Telegraph