Chris Shields expects Qarabag to come at Dundalk with all guns blazing in Wednesday night’s Champions League second qualifying round second-leg tie at the Dalga Arena.
The Lilywites flew to Baku on Monday morning and speaking to Dundalk Sport’s Ken Sloane at Dublin Airport prior to departure, Shields is anticipating another stiff examination by the Azeri powerhouse but feels Dundalk can more than match their vastly experienced opponents.
“In the first leg, we learned how they play and how they set-up but over the last couple of years in Europe we’ve found that teams tend to play quite differently away than they do at home so you’d be expecting Qarabag to be even more attacking because they’re in familiar surroundings,” he said.
“They’re a seasoned European team and they know how these two-legged affairs go but we’ve learned about their danger men and we know their traits and after the first half, I thought we dealt with it well last week. We’re coming out here and we’ve given ourselves a chance.
After taking the second half by the scruff of the neck last Wednesday, Shields topped a Dundalk Sport man of the match poll and he said that the League of Ireland champions would take plenty of heart from the way they fought back after conceding so early on.
“After the goal, we were a bit shellshocked and we kind of lost the run of ourselves,” he said. “You have a certain game plan going into these games against opposition like Qarabag so to have that changed within the first couple of minutes, it can be difficult to adjust.
“We got in at half-time, albeit a bit lucky only to be 1–0 down, and it was more of a regrouping, nothing tactical. It was about getting some headspace and going at the more aggressively and I think we all did that quite well.”
Qarabag have been in the group stages of European competition for five of the past six seasons and their manager, Gurban Gurbanov, said he was ‘satisfied’ with the 1–1 draw at Oriel Park against a ‘passionate’ Dundalk side.
“It was difficult for us to take care of all the conditions, and we had to make some changes in our game because of injuries but our opponents were very passionate,” he said.
“It was not easy for us but I’m satisfied with each of the players and I believe that we will prepare the team as we would like with a one-week period.”
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