The three-hour plane journey has been made a bit more comfortable for the City boss after watching his side end a seven-game league winless streak following last night’s 1-0 win over UCD at Belfield .
‘Relief’ was the key word after Will Patching’s 53rd-minute penalty kick secured a much-needed win that moved Derry within a point of second-placed Dundalk held by Shelbourne at Tolka Park.
With just one league game left, against the Bohemians next Friday night, before Derry host Riga FC at Brandywell in the first leg of the qualifiers on July 7, Higgins wanted to see his European opponent up close .
Riga host league leaders Valmieras in a clash at the top of the table on Sunday where Sandro Perkovic’s in-form side are hoping to close a seven-point gap on their title rivals.
Of course, Higgins has already familiarized himself with the current Riga squad and was heavily involved in analyzing the Latvian squad and preparing Dundalk for their Champions League first qualifying round in 2019 when the Co. Louth’s men advanced on penalties.
It’s a Riga team that has changed a lot since the Lilywhites were paired with them three years ago. Only veteran midfielder Ritvars Rugins survived this game involved in Riga’s last league outing against Auda.
Higgins was delighted with Derry’s timely win over UCD last night and hopes his side can build momentum ahead of this first leg against the Latvians who are currently enjoying a seven-game winning streak.
“I wouldn’t want to get on that plane in the morning, I would have jumped off it if we hadn’t won here tonight,” he joked. “But this win will boost the confidence a bit and hopefully kick-start some momentum in the right way.
“The performance wasn’t the most important thing, the result was. We played better in the games where we lost points. Tonight we just needed the win and hopefully we can get out of it.”
With Riga taking on the league leaders on Sunday, Higgins expects to see a full squad and believes his trip will prove fruitful in his preparations for that much-anticipated European clash in two weeks.
Higgins previously held positions as head scout and opposition analyst for Dundalk and the Republic of Ireland senior international team under Stephen Kenny and so he will be well versed in the art of scouting.
“It’s a top-of-the-table clash, so I imagine we would see their full arsenal, so it’s a good opportunity to go out there and see them.”
Will Patching penalty ends Derry City’s seven-game winless streak