AZ on his guard: ‘Kiev more difficult than the teams we can hit after this’

Dinamo Kiev is strong, but they also play against a strong opponent, says Arne Slot. The AZ-trainer of course refers to his own team. The two teams will meet tonight at 19.00 in the third preliminary round of the Champions League.

After the victory in the previous round on Viktoria Plzen, the world looks different for AZ. Before the game it was mainly about the poor preparation, with only one victory in six games. Then there were the compliments for the late breakaway.

Hope self-confidence

We won the first game that really mattered, concludes Slot, who, thanks to that win, is assured of Europa League football with his team. That has given us a lot of self-confidence

But AZ wants more. Playing in the Champions League is very nice, for every football player. But certainly for an AZ player. That has not happened once in the last ten years

The urge to make it to the Champions League is very strong, adds captain Teun Koopmeiners. It‘s good for the club that we are playing European again anyway, but we want to take another step. When you also see how eager everyone is…

But Dinamo has not just been beaten, the AZ’ers know. Slot has done his homework. Everyone will say that Dinamo is a strong opponent when you see that a fortnight ago they defeated Sjachtar Donetsk 3-1 to win the Ukrainian Supercup

Slot saw a typical Ukrainian football team. They play compact, are physically strong, have a lot of running power and can counter very well. But, and I had expected less beforehand, they are also good at the ball

I think that Dinamo is a more difficult opponent than the teams that we might hit afterwards, says Koopmeiners. Should AZ win, a diptych with KAA Gent or Rapid Wien awaits in the final preliminary round.

Although that won‘t be easy either, warns Slot. And no arrogance fits us at all, since we won over the ditch from Viktoria Plzen with our heels

Had a free weekend

AZ will appear at the start in Kiev equipped in any case. The match against FC Utrecht, which was scheduled last Saturday, was cancelled by the KNVB. To the displeasure of Utrecht.

At AZ they are happy with it, says Slot. Otherwise we would have had a game on Saturday afternoon, an away practice session on Sunday and a 45-minute practice session in the stadium on Monday. That means little recovery time and little training time

So now the Alkmaarders will be spared. But the team will have to travel to Kiev anyway. Koopmeiners: Well, we can play for the Champions League, so I don’t care where it is. I am looking forward to it