Danish challenge for Larne’s European heroes

European football will return to Inver Park tonight (Thursday), a week after Larne tasted their first home success in continental competition.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 10:43 am

The east Antrim side will take on Denmark’s AGF Aarhus in the first leg of the second qualifying round of the UEFA Europa Conference League.

Tiernan Lynch’s side defeated Bala Town from Wales 2-0 over two legs in the first qualifying round to set up the matches against a team which secured fourth place in the Danish Superliga last season.

Larne competing in Europe for the first time in their 132-year history, come up against a team who have reached the latter rounds of European tournaments in the past.

Larne players celebrate with Ronan Hale after his goal against Bala Town. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

In 1961, AGF reached the quarter-finals of the European Cup, losing to eventual winners Benfica.

In 1989, they reached the quarter-finals of the Cup Winners’ Cup, losing 1-0 over two legs against a Gary Lineker inspired Barcelona.

AGF hold the record for the most Danish Cup wins with nine, ahead of FC Copenhagen on eight and Brondby IF on seven.

The team, managed by former Wimbledon and Norwich player, David Nielsen, have international players in their ranks and will pose a bigger threat than that offered by Bala Town.

Attacking player Jón Dagur Þorsteinsson (22) has scored once in nine first team appearances for Iceland, while Aarhus’ captain, Niklas Backman (32) has represented Sweden on six occasions.

Former Rosenborg defender Alex Gersbach (24) has also won full international caps for Australia.

Larne will be travelling to Aarhus Stadium, the third largest stadium in Denmark, for the return leg on July 29.

Commenting in the wake of their victory over Bala Town, Larne manager, Tiernan Lynch said: “We want to put a squad together that can hopefully go deep into these competitions. If you’re going to do that, you have to come up against these teams and see where it takes you.

“It will be a step up in quality, but it’s a challenge we want.”

If the Inver Park side can overcome AGF, a glamour tie with Portuguese side FC Paços de Ferreira lies in wait in the third qualifying round of the Europa Conference League.

Paços will enjoy home advantage on August 5, with either Larne or Aarhus playing at home a week later, on Thursday, August 12.

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Click here to read Denmark on the horizon as Larne create European history at sun-kissed Inver Park

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