ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC
Harry Kenny’s St Patrick’s Athletic begin their Europa League campaign with a home clash against Swedish side IFK Norrkoping on Thursday evening (kick-off is at 7.45pm).
The Saints come into the Richmond Park showdown off the back of a morale-boosting 2-1 win away to Waterford at the RSC on Friday evening.
Former UCD winger Dean Clarke scored the winner on the hour mark after Conor Clifford opened the scoring with a superb long-range strike.
This will be Pats first European bow since 2016, and manager Kenny admits he is relishing the challenge posed by his Swedish counterparts.
"I don't think they are a typical European side,” the former Bray Wanderers boss told stpatsfc.com.
“They are an aggressive side and have a very good game plan. They play pretty direct football, and they have very good individual players.
“They have plenty of internationals through their team. They have a Costa Rican international and lots of Swedish internationals, so it is going to be a very tough game. They are very experienced in this setting of European football, so we don't expect anything else other than a tough game."
"There is a great buzz about the place, and you can feel the atmosphere building. You can feel it in Inchicore and feel it amongst the lads. The fans are going to be at the game in large numbers and its credit to them that the support has been great.
“I've only watched a couple of videos of past European games in Richmond and the atmosphere was fantastic so let's hope we can re-create that on Thursday night."
The Saints will also be boosted by the news that they will have a full squad to chose from this evening.
Seeking to avoid the same fate as fellow Swedes Elfsborg in 2008, IFK Norrkoping make the tricky visit to Richmond Park as they look to build on a positive run of form.
Led by Jens Gustafsson, Norrkoping lie 6th in the Swedish top-flight, ten points behind table-toppers Malmo FF.
This will also be the first time Norrkoping have made the trip to Ireland for a competitive outing, with Gustafsson unsure of the ‘resistance’ his side will meet.
“It is even harder than normal to say about it because it is a resistance we have never met.
“You never really know where the match image goes, because we don't know the opponents' players individually either.
“We have seen a lot but at the same time you need to meet and be measured with each other to get to know the resistance more.
“What we have noted is that they are very straightforward in their game, very physical and straight and well organized.”
In terms of team news, Alexander Jacobsen and Pontus Almqvist both miss out through injury for the Swedes.
Referee: Lionel Tschudi (Switzerland).
This will be St Patrick’s Athletic first European tie since they were knocked out of the Europa League in 2016 by Dinamo Minsk. Christy Fagan was on target on that occasion as the Saints were defeated 2-1 on aggregate.
IFK Norrkoping have won two of their last three league games against BK Hacken (formerly opponents of Cork City) and AIK (former Europa League opposition for Shamrock Rovers). However, they lost at home Sirius 2-1 in their penultimate game prior to their European adventure.
This will be Harry Kenny’s first game as manager in the Europa League having been assistant manager in the competition previously.
St Patrick’s Athletic 4/1; Draw 5/2; IFK Norrkoping 4/7.
St Patrick’s Athletic 1 - 2 IFK Norrkoping
St Patrick’s Athletic
Injured: Alexander Jacobsen, Pontus Almqvist.