Dundalk FC are all set for another European adventure following last Thursday’s thrilling 3-1 victory over Faroe Island side KI. The win saw Dundalk qualify for the group stages of the Europa League for just the second time in the club’s history and the following day they were drawn in group where they will face Arsenal, FC Molde and Rapid Vienna. When Filippo Giovagnoli was brought into the club in August to replace Vinny Perth the Italian was quoted as calling his trip to Ireland a ‘kamikaze mission’ but just five weeks later he and his assistant Giuseppe Rossi are the toast of the town after guiding the Lilywhites through three European matches to qualify for the Europa League.
Last Thursday’s victory saw the club earn a further €3m on top of the €1m they had already made up to that point during their European campaign. Retaining the league may no longer be attainable but for Dundalk fans they can look forward to six successive weeks of Europa Cup action starting on the 22nd of October with a home match against Norwegian side Molde. A week later the team will travel to London for a glamour tie against English Premier League giants Arsenal in a game which Giovagnoli cannot wait to play.
“Can you imagine playing at the Emirates? It’s like a dream. I think they have better players than us, better coaches, of course they are better than us. Arteta is an unbelievable coach.
“He is young and trying to apply his soccer principles. When I see things like that, it inspires me, coaches who are afraid of nothing, they want to get results but through their football principles,” stated Filippo.
When asked if Dundalk have any hope against Arsenal, Filippo referenced his own journey which has seen him go from an unknown youth academy director in New York to a manager of a side in the Europa League group stages.
“Anything is possible. I am the proof that anything is possible in life. Now we have nothing to lose. We got four points the last time we were in the Europa League so let’s try and beat that record and maybe get five this time,” stated the Italian.
The 49-year-old succeeded Vinny Perth on a short-term deal in August but after completing his mission to qualify for the group stages club chairman Bill Hulsizer looks set to offer both Filippo and Giuseppe long term deals. The American was quoted as saying “I’d be happy for him to be our coach full-time going forward,” following the victory in the Aviva.