Hoops tactician will not underestimate the Lithuanian champions, while Sligo Rovers manager believes that his side will be under-dogs in the Europa LeagueShamrock Rovers manager Stephen Kenny has said that his team are keen to build on their European success this season by defeating Lithuanian outfit FK Ekranas in the second qualifying round of the Champions League.
Last season, the Hoops became the first Irish team to reach the group stages of the Europa League when they defeated Partizan in the qualifying-round play-off.
Speaking to the Irish Times, the former Derry City boss expressed disappointment at not being seeded, but stressed that his team would be aiming to win.
“Obviously it was disappointing not to be seeded,” said Kenny. “The club has done well in recent years and had a great run in the Europa League last year after starting as a seeded team so it seems unusual that we haven’t been seeded this time around."
He continued: “Having said that, Ekranas are clearly seeded for a reason, they’ve a good pedigree both at home – they’ve won the league for the last four years and the last two doubles – and in Europe where they’ve had some good results.
"They have a strong group of players including a couple of good young Africans but we’ll be looking to beat them. Obviously that will be our aim,” concluded Kenny.
Meanwhile, Sligo Rovers boss Ian Baraclough says that he is looking forward to the challenge of European football. Airtricity League leaders Sligo were drawn against Slovakian side Spartak Trnava in the second qualifying round of the Europa League and the former Scunthorpe United boss admits that it will not be easy for his team.
They are really going to test us,” Baraclough told the Irish Times. “They look a very good side. Obviously I’m going to try to do as much research as possible in the build-up to the game."
He added: "They’ve had plenty of experience in Europe and a lot more success than us but sometimes that isn’t always a deciding factor.
“It is something we will relish and another challenge for the club that we’re all looking forward to.
"We will be the underdog, but it is a chance to try to create a small bit of history and improve our record in European competitions," concluded the Sligo boss.
Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers embark on their respective European competitions in early to mid July, but final dates have yet to be confirmed.