Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has urged his players not to let their chance to play in Lisbon next week pass them by.
The Dons are in Norway for tonight’s Europa League second qualifying round tie at Viking FK and with the winners travelling to Sporting Clube de Portugal in the third round next week McInnes wants his players to seize their opportunity to face the Portuguese giants.
He said: “I think we must use them as motivation. The players are well aware of it and it doesn’t do any harm to remind them that’s why we are playing to take on that kind of big opponent.
“Players will do a lot in their career but to take on a team of that magnitude and in that environment — even if it’s not in front of a crowd — is something we all want to experience.
‘But first things first we will deal with this game but there’s no doubt that mentioning Sporting Lisbon is an added motivation to get the club through. There’s no harm in that.”
The Dons would have been at a distinct disadvantage had the tie been played in July but with Premiership clubs well into their second month of the season he expects his players to be well prepared for their test in Stavanger.
He said: “The fact we have a few games under our belt now hopefully helps us. Viking are 17 games into their league so they still have that bit of an advantage.
“However it is not what it could have been had it been earlier. We feel a bit closer to where we will get to once the season is up and running properly.
“We are in good form and looking forward to the game. I think it will be a tough match as the fact it is away from home and on Astroturf is not ideal.
“However for me it is two teams with the motivation for the next round to take on Sporting Lisbon which is what we want. Hopefully this time next week we are speaking from a hotel in Portugal and preparing for the game.”
Viking boss Bjarne Berntsen has been impressed by the quality in the Dons squad but McInnes believes he too has a good handle on what to expect from the home side tonight.
He said: “From what we’ve seen of them they play 4-3-3 with a good blend of youngsters and experienced internationals. They have just sold their young left-back (Adrian) Pereira at the weekend there.
“They like to rotate in the middle of the park and they have goals in them. They have players at the top end of the pitch we need to be mindful of.
“But it’s the type of opponent we can face domestically as well. We have a tough game on our hands but I genuinely feel if we play to our capabilities it is a tie we can win.”