Ben Doherty believes Brandywell crowd can roar Derry City victory over KuPS
That 1-0 win in the Europa Conference League first round qualifier against the Faroese has inspired a belief they can create more lasting memories on the continent and progress to a third qualifying round for the first time since 2006.
Derry boss Ruaidhri Higgins was part of the Derry team who defeated Swedish giants Gothenburg 17 years ago today, a two legged victory which sent Stephen Kenny's troops on that unforgettable Uefa Cup journey which included a 7-3 aggregate win over Gretna and ended in a 2-0 defeat to PSG in the third round at the Parc des Princes in Paris.
It will be no easy task to repeat that feat as they host six times Finnish Veikkausliiga champions KuPS at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium tonight who are ranked 222 places above the Candy Stripes in Uefa's coefficients.
Doherty, who has some fond memories of playing in Europe with Coleraine, believes that will stand by him with players like Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy and Cameron Dummigan in particular, also drawing from their vast experiences playing against top opposition in European football.
The versatile Culmore man scored three European goals while at Coleraine, scoring the winner in a penalty shootout against NK Maribor in Slovenia to clinch the Bannsiders' first European away win in 50 years! He also netted twice from the spot against Motherwell and scored in the 2-1 defeat to FK Velez Mostar in sweltering heat in Bosnia in 2021.
"That's what stands to you and as you go through these rounds you gain that bit of confidence as well," said Doherty. "It breeds confidence within the squad too that we've gone through the first round for the first time in nine years. It's a big achievement and it gives everyone that wee boost.
"Anyone coming to us at Brandywell, we'll fancy ourselves. You have to, at home especially. It's the first leg so we'll be hoping for a positive result we can take out there next week."
KuPS have plenty of European experience themselves having played in either the Champions League, Europa League or Europa Conference League in each of the past six seasons.There are no 'handy ones' at this stage of the qualifying stages but Doherty and his teammates are confident they can produce a big result.
"It's one of those games every player wants to be involved in. Big games at Brandywell, a full house, it's something everyone wants to get their teeth into."They're a good team. You're playing in Europe. You're in the second round, so you're not going to get any handy ones. "Everyone poses their own threat.
"I think the big thing is the difference in styles of play and the cultures. They will be a dynamic team, they will be in our face, they will be well organised. A European team always has that threat of individual qualities and as a team. It's something we've been well drilled on and we'll be looking forward to Thursday night.
"I'm sure the gaffer will have a gameplan set out for us. We'll just have to do our best to implement that in front of a big crowd."
And Doherty has called on the packed Brandywell attendance to do 'their part' and help roar them on to a precious home win.
"That's what we need them for. It's their part in all of this. There's 11 people who can go out on the pitch but there's 3,000 people in the stands who can push this for us and they can all be a part of it. We need everyone again on Thursday night and hopefully the place is bouncing as it was last Thursday. It's one we, as players, look forward to and it gives you that lift.
"We're going to take the game to them but we still have to keep this tie alive as such. They've got a massive pedigree in this competition. It's not going to be a pushover game but it's definitely one we could go and fancy ourselves and if we're right up, all 11 people on the pitch, then there's no reason why we can't go and do something.
"It's another one we're looking forward to. You have nothing to worry about on Thursday night in front of our home fans. You have nothing to lose in terms of the away goal so we just have to give it a go and hopefully the big advantage for us is the big crowd."