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Aberdeen boss Barry Robson challenges players to be Europa League history makers

Swedish champions BK Hacken stand between the Dons and a chance to compete in the group stages of the Europa League for the first time.

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson. Image: SNS
Aberdeen manager Barry Robson. Image: SNS

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson has urged his players to seize their chance to become history makers by leading the club to the group stages of the Europa League.

The Dons have not played in the group stages of the European football since the 2007-08 season under Jimmy Calderwood.

Aberdeen’s class of 2023 will secure a Europa League spot if they beat Swedish champions BK Hacken at Pittodrie in the play-off round second leg.

A place in the Conference League is on offer to the losing side but Robson wants his side to dare to dream.

The Dons boss said: “The club hasn’t been in the group stages since Jimmy Calderwood’s team and before that, it was probably the great Sir Alex Ferguson team playing in games of that size.

“When Steve Agnew and I came in I don’t think anyone would have thought we’d be sitting here in this position.

“That’s credit to the players and the staff for everything they’ve done.

“The aim was to get to the Conference League and they did their job there.

“Now we have a chance to get to the Europa League and what an opportunity that is – that’s been the message to the players.

“I’ve told them they’ve achieved the first bit, now go and try to do the next bit.

“Go out and enjoy it, this is a great chance to play at that level – it’s huge.

“It’s time to go out and see what they can achieve. I always tell them to enjoy football, bring your best and be brave when you have the ball.

“Hopefully they can do that and take the opportunity to play in a huge tournament.”

Robson wants repeat of first leg display in Sweden

Aberdeen’s Nicky Devlin celebrates after making it 2-2 against BK Hacken. Image: SNS.

The play-off remains evenly balanced following a rousing first leg in Gothenburg last week.

The Dons fought back from 2-0 down to earn a 2-2 draw thanks to goals from Bojan Miovksi and Nicky Devlin.

A sold-out Pittodrie is eagerly anticipating a momentous win tonight but Robson knows the Swedes remain a dangerous outfit.

He said: “What a game of football it was last week.

“You saw what we want to be, how aggressive we want to be and you saw how Hacken want to play too.

“They’re Swedish champions and they are that for a reason, so we know how difficult it’s going to be this week.

“Will they change their approach much? I’m not sure, that’s something I can’t tell at this stage.

“Last week there was good value in two teams really going for it but we’ll need to see what they come here trying to do.

“All we can do is plan for what we can control and hopefully bring a performance to it.”

Dons must hit the heights again if they want to progress

Aberdeen boss Barry Robson. Image: Shutterstock.

Aberdeen had Hacken on the ropes in a remarkable final half hour and in the end the Dons returned home having come close to taking a first leg lead.

The rollercoaster nature of the second half made for great entertainment but Robson knows his players must bring their A game tonight to complete the task.

He said:“Last week we were a bit gung-ho at times and got carried away – but I like that in football.

“I want us to be playing fast and aggressive, it takes a lot out of you playing at that tempo.

“It’s not easy so you have to know when to drop off and take a breather, when to press and when not to press.

“That comes from the players as well, we need to be smart because we know we can’t just go after teams all the time, especially ones of this quality.

“Hacken were on the ropes at the end and that’s credit to the fitness of the players.

“They’re a really good side, they’ve sold one of their players for big money to AZ Alkmaar this week.

“It was a great result over there but this week it’s going to take everything we’ve got to get through.

“It’s going to be a tough game but if we get the fans behind us they’ll give us a hand and we’ll hopefully achieve something.”

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