Rijeka still a danger for Aberdeen - Derek McInnes

Derek McInnes: No complacency. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Derek McInnes: No complacency. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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DEREK McInnes is determined to guard against complacency on and off the field to ensure Aberdeen finish the job of eliminating Rijeka from the Europa League.

The Dons returned from Croatia with an impressive 3-0 win against a side who have made it to the group stage for the last two years.

That has already got some Aberdeen supporters thinking about a probable trip to Kazakhstan next week for the third qualifying round after the Pittodrie club were drawn against FC Kairat or Alashkert of Armenia.

The side who knocked St Johnstone out in round one are also three goals adrift in their return but the Aberdeen manager is taking nothing for granted. He will make sure his players are like minded in the home leg tomorrow night, however a spot of eavesdropping earlier this week revealed an attitude among fans that he is desperate to defuse.

McInnes said: “I can’t emphasise enough how much we have to be on our guard in this game.

“I was standing beside some Aberdeen supporters who were queuing for tickets at Pittodrie this week.

“They didn’t see me but I overheared one saying the result in Croatia suggested Rijeka aren’t as good as everyone has been making out.

“That sort of attitude and approach could be our undoing. Nobody at Aberdeen can afford to think the job has been done. This will be as tough a game as we have played since I came to Aberdeen.

“The result was earned by our lads. It had nothing to do with any failings in the Rijeka side. So we certainly can’t start feeling comfortable about being three-up when there is still a whole match to play.”

McInnes’s caution is understandable. However Rijeka do seem to be a club in crisis as they conceded another three goals at home in Sunday’s draw against Slaven Belupo.

Their manager, Matjaz Kek, made five changes to the team thumped by the Dons however it seemed to make little difference.

Despite that, McInnes is prepared for the Croatians to have a real go at Pittodrie and insists his side must take a canny approach.

He added: “Rijeka’s record in Europe in recent seasons suggests they will not accept lightly the situation they are in.

“There has also got to be a recognition among our supporters that there are different ways to win games in different competitions.

“Domestically we have always tried to show them an Aberdeen side on the front foot but that can’t always happen in European football.

“I anticipate them maybe doing something a wee bit different so we may need to do the same.”

Meanwhile, Rijeka hitman Roman Bezjak has vowed to attack Aberdeen from kick-off because they have nothing to lose. The Croatian side face an enormous task to try to overturn the 3-0 deficit at Pittodrie and, with their league form having also been patchy, their confidence has taken a beating.

However, Slovenian international striker Bezjak remains convinced they can salvage some pride in Scotland and stun McInnes’s side.

“In football everything is possible. We have nothing more to lose,” said the 26-year-old forward.

“We will attack from the very first minute and if we score an early goal, who knows?

“There have been holes in our defence and we know we need to clog them up. But if we can do that, I am sure we are capable of scoring three goals.

“We are getting better and I think the season will be a success.

“The team had a meeting and I believe we are together. We all feel the tie is not over and we can hurt Aberdeen.”