Heimir Gudjónsson is confident FH Hafnarfjördur will not be cowed by Aston Villa FC in the UEFA Cup, as he warned that "on a good day we can make life tough".
Heimir Gudjónsson is confident his FH Hafnarfjördur side will not be cowed by Aston Villa FC in the UEFA Cup, saying: "On a good day we can make life tough for them."
Last season's Icelandic Cup winners go into the second qualifying round opener at the Laugardalsvöllur Stadium in Reykjavik with their spirits high. A 2-1 win against KR Reykjavík on Saturday helped them maintain their place at the top of the Urvalsdeild standings, and while their English opponents won the 1981/82 European Champion Clubs' Cup, FH – the 2004, 2005 and 2006 Icelandic league champions – boast more recent European experience than Martin O'Neill's men.
With his team just a point clear of second-placed Keflavík going into Sunday's game against KR, Gudjónsson made little of the coming UEFA Cup fixtures, saying: "We are not thinking about the UEFA games. The league has our full attention and the European games are just extra fixtures. Keflavík are right behind us in the table." However, the coach's attitude to the imminent European glamour tie has changed in the intervening days.
"It is exciting project," said the former FH and Iceland midfielder, whose side were knocked out of the Icelandic Cup last 16 by Keflavík but overcame CS Grevenmacher 8-3 on aggregate in their opening UEFA Cup tie. "It is great for Icelandic football fans to get Aston Villa coming to Iceland with their famous players and great manager so this is going to be a tremendous game. The victory against KR has boosted our self-confidence for the Villa match and we are ready for them."
FH are now Iceland's only competitors in Europe. FC BATE Borisov knocked Valur Reykjavík out of the UEFA Champions League, while in the UEFA Cup, ÍA Akranes lost out to FC Honka Espoo and FK Rīga were too strong for Fylkir in the UEFA Intertoto Cup. FH, however, are in no hurry to join them. "I cannot say what our chances are against Aston Villa but we will not roll over and on a good day we can make life tough for them," said Gudjónsson. "Often such games bring the best out of players as there is more at stake, and maybe our opponents will underestimate us, which can help."