The Season Ticket
Dundalk learn of potential Europa League play-off opponents
Dundalk have learned, if they do overcome SK Slovan Bratislava in the third play-off round of the Europa League, they will face one of either Ajax or PAOK, the Greek champions, in a play-off game to enter the Europa League proper.
Ajax, though, will be hoping to continue their Champions League story, following last season’s dramatic elimination at the hands of a Lucas Moura inspired Tottenham Hotspur in the competition’s semi-final.
Ajax travel to the Toumba Stadium in Thessaloniki tomorrow evening, before the return leg next Tuesday in the Johan Cruyff Arena.
But all this could prove immaterial, if Vinny Perth's side fail to overcome their Slovakian opponents, with the first leg away on Wednesday evening in the capital city.
The Lilywhites are already in Bratislava, ahead of the game, and expect a tough encounter with the current Slovak champions, who are three games into a new season.
The strut of Dundalk's hosts can only have been enabled by three wins in three in the initial stages of their league title defence in recent weeks, having conceded only once in those three games.
With a plethora of Slovakian internationals, as well as a smattering of players from the Slovenian, Bulgarian and Nigerian national sides, this is a game and a tie with a lot of quality to contend with.
Azerbaijan champions Qarabag were too strong for Dundalk less than a week ago in Baku, but Perth and his players have had little time to dwell on the fall-out, with the logistics of their Slovakan trip and preparation for a challenging fixture to consider.