Europa League football is the highlight of the season for Dons captain Joe Lewis and the Aberdeen goalkeeper is determined to help his side reach the group stages of the competition this season so fans can revel in the excitement too.
The Dons travel to Stavanger tomorrow ahead of their second qualifying round tie against Viking FK with a trip to Portugal to face Sporting Club de Portugal next week awaiting the winners.
There will no fans allowed into stadiums during the play-off rounds this season due to the coronavirus but there is the possibility of supporters returning for the group stages and Lewis is focused on reaching the group stages for the first time under manager Derek McInnes.
He said: “European nights are very exciting anyway and always occasions we look forward to. We won’t get carried away after beating Runavik but it was a pleasing result and we’re looking forward to the next round.
“European football is something which attracted me to the club and while it is a shame the fans can’t be in the stadium those nights are great to be involved in.
“I know the supporters are watching us on TV. They will be feeling really frustrated that they can’t be here but we want to keep that feelgood factor around the place for as long as we can and once supporters are allowed back and when it’s possible to fill the stadium we can get the fans behind us.”
This is the seventh year in a row the Dons have tried to reach the group stage and while the path to the play-off round is a testing one Lewis believes McInnes has the squad available to take on the challenge in the weeks ahead.
He said: “We’ve got the strength in depth. We’ve added a few players this season – as well as having every outfield player from last season still under contract.
“We’ve strengthened the group and you could see, even when the eight players were missing, that we were ready to play those games.
“I know they got postponed but, looking at the potential teams we had, I felt we were more than capable of winning those games.
“So that shows our strength. We still have one or two lads carrying little injuries but when everyone is fit and ready to play we’ve got a really strong group for the manager to pick from.
“So yeah, certainly the European win, it was pleasing to see. Even our bench, there were real options for the manager to call upon.
“That will tell this season, I’m sure.”
Aberdeen’s biggest win so far came in the 6-0 rout of Runavik in the first round and Lewis believes the same level of performance is needed if his side is to navigate the qualifying rounds.
He said: “I think that’s how we want to play against any opposition. For me, that was one of the more pleasing things and I made a conscious effort as the game went on to make sure we didn’t get slack, we didn’t get sloppy with our play. We were ruthless.
“That was an important part of that night, that’s how we want to be playing our football against any opposition, with a high press and good intensity.”