If it wasn’t for unhealthy luck, Aberdeen wouldn’t have had any luck as their Euro dream died in Maribor 12 months in the past.
A dodgy Bulgarian referee, Adam Rooney’s first ever penalty miss for the Reds and a Joe Lewis blunder at hand the Slovenians a late win made it a nightmare journey.
It was laborious to not sympathise with the Dons on an evening when Jayden Stockley was despatched off simply eight minutes after approaching by Nikola Popov who made a string of contentious choices.
The identical might have been stated the earlier 12 months when the Dons went out to Kairat Almaty having been handed the longest journey in UEFA membership competitors to Kazakhstan.
It was one more close to miss within the try to get to the Europa League play-off spherical having confronted Actual Sociedad the earlier 12 months in a tie the place few would have anticipated them to get by.
Tonight Derek McInnes will strive for the fourth time to get to inside 180 minutes of the profitable group stage of Europe’s second tier competitors and a possible £2.6million money increase.
And on this event there can’t be any excuses or hard-luck tales. Main 2-1 towards Apollon Limassol from final week’s first leg at Pittodrie, they merely have to complete off the job.
It’s in Aberdeen’s personal palms. Keep away from defeat within the AEK Enviornment and they are going to be one in all 44 golf equipment within the hat in Nyon tomorrow with large weapons equivalent to former European champions AC Milan and Marseille alongside them.
It’s a mouthwatering prospect and as powerful because it’s going to be within the baking Mediterranean island, if they’ll’t pull it off this time then they don’t need to be within the play-off spherical. And one other close to miss could be a giant psychological blow.
Making progress in continental competitors was one of many fundamental causes for McInnes deciding to snub Sunderland in the summertime and the one manner he can do this this season is by progressing tonight.
The Aberdeen squad arrived in Larnaca final evening after a four-and-a-half hour flight – it’s going to appear so much longer on the return in the event that they don’t make it by.
And victory would additionally ship them into Sunday’s Scottish Premiership opener towards Hamilton on an actual excessive.
It’s going to be a giant check of their character however they’ve proved previously with advantageous away wins towards Rijeka in Croatia, Groningen in Holland and Siroki Brijeg in Bosnia within the final qualifying spherical that they’re succesful.
The distinction this time is the Dons are fancied and the gamers must address the strain that comes with that.
One other issue goes to be the warmth, though McInnes has pointed to stifling situations in Rijeka two years in the past and the Bosnia final month.
Temperatures nudged 40 levels in Larnaca yesterday however are fortunately anticipated to drop at the moment within the island’s oldest metropolis the place a few of the 700 travelling Reds military have have been absorbing the sunshine.
Cork Metropolis gamers complained of the warmth and humidity after they went down 1-Zero to AEK Larnaca final month and a few native journalists have expressed shock that the Dons opted to not practice on the stadium final evening.
Romanian legend Gheorghe Hagi, now answerable for Viitorul Constanta, educated on Monday and Tuesday forward of their Champions League qualifier towards Apoel Nicosia final evening, albeit their venue is hotter once more with out the ocean breeze.
However McInnes put his gamers by their last coaching session in Scotland earlier than taking up Siroki Brijeg within the final spherical and it labored on that event so didn’t see any purpose to vary that.
Regardless of the preparation, it’s going to be a tense 90 minutes and whereas one other away win is likely to be an excessive amount of to ask in entrance of an intimidating dwelling crowd, they’re greater than able to getting the draw wanted to take them by.
Loads of Dons followers have based mostly themselves within the close by celebration hotspot of Ayia Napa – and there are few higher locations to have a good time if Aberdeen can get the job carried out.
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