'No fear' for Glentoran's McDonald

Glentoran FC manager Alan McDonald is optimistic that competing against opposition from "across the water" will help the Belfast side extend their UEFA Cup run.

Glentoran manager Alan McDonald is confident of his side's chances
Glentoran manager Alan McDonald is confident of his side's chances ©Sportsfile

Glentoran FC manager Alan McDonald is optimistic that competing against opposition from "across the water" will help the Belfast side extend their UEFA Cup run.

Tough results
The Glens are Northern Ireland's only realistic hope of progress after champions Linfield lost 2-0 at home to Croatian side NK Dinamo Zagreb in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League first-round qualifier while Cliftonville FC were crushed 4-0 by Denmark's FC København in the UEFA Cup. Even the Glens will probably have to win away to Latvia's SK Liepajas Metalurgs after drawing the first leg 1-1 at the Oval, but McDonald believes it is possible.

British opposition
The former Northern Ireland international, who won all his 52 caps while playing for English side Queens Park Rangers FC, puts plenty of store by the friendly games Glentoran have arranged against Scottish and English opposition. After drawing 1-1 with Heart of Midlothian FC, the Glens only lost 3-1 at the weekend to Ipswich Town FC, and have a game against Burnley FC to come.

Ipswich performance
McDonald feels Glentoran are coming on well, pointing out that they caused Ipswich problems. "We hit the post and went 1-0 up and in general the first-half performance was really excellent," he said. "Then we made a lot of changes, bringing off the majority of players who played [against Metalurgs] because we didn't want them getting over-tired. It was a great work-out for our players coming up against a Championship side. They should learn from those guys."

No fear
Glentoran have to score in the second leg next Thursday, but McDonald is content with that situation. "We know what we have to do going out there and I think sometimes you're better off that way, rather than wondering what you might have to do," he said. "It's going to be tough for us but we're looking forward to it. We're certainly not fearing it.

'Very much alive'
The east Belfast side last made progress in the UEFA Cup four years ago, ousting Finnish side AC Allianssi 4-3 on aggregate. That success came after drawing the first leg 2-2 at home, winning 2-1 away, so McDonald insists his players believe in their chances. "We're going to be approaching the game in a positive manner," said McDonald. "They may feel that the job is done but as far as we're concerned the tie is still very much alive."

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