Shamrock Rovers draw with Gent and Molde in Europa Conference League group – The Irish Times



While manager Stephen Bradley insisted after Thursday night’s Europa League play-off home win over Ferencváros that his side had a strong presence in the Conference League group stages to win games, the Shamrocks Rovers can’t be too upset after the lunchtime draw in Istanbul.

Turkey’s goalkeeper legend Volkan Demirel lured third-pot Rovers into Group F along with seeded KAA Gent of Belgium, Norway’s Molde FK and fourth-seeded Djurgårdens IF of Sweden.

A grouping that brought a cautious response from veteran Rovers goalkeeper Alan Mannus, who has been in fine form during the campaign this summer.

“Obviously at this stage of the competition you’re not going to get easy games, let alone going into the group stages,” said Mannus, 40, who made several top saves against FC Barcelona. Hungarian team on Thursday evening.

“The further you go, the more difficult it becomes. We have Ghent, a very big team, and the other teams are obviously also big teams. These will be quite difficult matches for us.

Rovers, who have won all four home games in Europe this campaign, have avoided top seeds West Ham United and Villareal and pot-half Fiorentina and FC Cologne.

“You are guaranteed to have at least a great team, with the way the draw works, and we had Ghent. It’s going to be a very difficult game for us.

“As for the other teams, we have played against Swedish and Norwegian teams in recent years and we have done well against them.

“So we have that bit of experience. We know we can give any team in Europe a tough game, especially in Tallaght, no matter who they are or how good they are.

Ghent, who lost 4-0 on aggregate to Cypriots Omonia Nicosia in the Europa League play-off round, won their Conference League group last year, beating Rovers arch-nemesis Flora Tallinn twice , before losing in the Round of 16 to The Bohemian Conquerors PAOK.

A seasoned European campaign, Ghent have also made the Europa League groups on four occasions as well as the 2015/16 Champions League group stage. This is their first encounter with the League of Ireland opposition.

Similarly, Molde FK, five points clear of their domestic league, boasts a fairly respectable continental pedigree.

The former club of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Erling Haaland beat Sligo Rovers home and away in the Champions League qualifiers in 2013. They were in Dundalk’s Europa League group in 2020 , beating Louth 2-1 at Tallaght Stadium, eventually finishing second behind Arsenal, before going out to Granada in the round of 16.

Stockholm side Djurgardens IF are familiar with Rovers who beat them in the UEFA Cup 20 years ago. Cork City then knocked them out of the same competition in 2005.

The Swedes have impressed in the Conference League playoffs so far, winning five of six games and scoring 15 goals in the process.

“We have a good home record this season in Europe and we want that to continue no matter who we play against,” Mannus added.

“Obviously we have a lot of respect for all the teams we play against, but we will still give them a good game and we will play to get points, not just to be there.

“At the same time, I’m sure all three teams will think they can take us points. We are also very aware of this. »

The fixtures will be finalized by UEFA on Saturday.

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