Kari Arnason has warned Aberdeen supporters they risk underestimating Cypriots Apollon Limassol at their peril.
The Iceland international announced his return to the Dons in style on Sunday by scoring the third goal in the 4-1 win at Brechin.
It was Arnason’s first appearance for the Dons after his move from Omonia Nicosia and puts the defender in contention to make a competitive debut against Limassol in the Europa League third qualifying round first leg at Pittodrie on Thursday.
The 34-year-old rates Apollon highly and, while confident the Dons can progress to the play-off round, Arnason knows they are a team capable of causing his new club problems.
He said: “Apollon are a very good team, in attack especially, as they have pace and they have good movement up front.
“They tend to make the same movements so we have got to keep an eye on that and it will be a tough game. It won’t be easy and we have to respect them, but still we have a very good chance to get through.
“If we press them high it’s critical we don’t sell ourselves doing it because they are technical players and they will go past us if we do that.”
Arnason’s former club finished fifth in the Cypriot First Division last season, seven points behind third-placed Apollon, and he rates the Dons’ opponents highly.
He said: “Apollon are one of six decent teams in Cyprus and the rest you should beat every time you play them. The league then gets split into the top six and the bottom eight, similar to Scotland, and those games are the ones everyone wants to play in.
“The top end is competitive and the leading clubs such as Apollon pay good money, so they get in good quality players.”
It is five years since Arnason left the Dons for Rotherham United and the international has been impressed by the progress made in his absence under Derek McInnes.
He said: “It’s all top notch now in terms of the preparation for every game. It is a lot more professional. When I left I knew that was Aberdeen’s chance to go for it as, back then, Rangers were in turmoil and they have taken the chance well.”
lMattias Gestranius, of Finland, has been appointed referee for Aberdeen’s Europa League third qualifying round first leg against Apollon Limassol at Pittodrie on Thursday.
The 39-year-old, who has been a Fifa listed referee since 2009, will be assisted by countrymen Jan-Peter Aravirta and Jonas Turunen.