Fired-up boss Barry Robson insists ending Aberdeen’s Euro win drought for the club’s travelling fans is his main priority in Helsinki.
Aberdeen face HJK Helsinki in the Finnish capital on Thursday in Group G of the Europa Conference League.
The Dons’ hopes of qualifying from the group stages to the knock-out phase have been extinguished.
However Robson believes this fixture still means everything to the die-hard Dons fans who have travelled at great expense to Helsinki.
The Dons boss insists he has told his players how important winning in Helsinki is to the club and fans.
There is still £870,000 in Uefa prize money and club coefficient points up for grabs for the Reds in the remaining games against Helsinki and Eintractht Frankfurt.
However Robson will not be sidetracked by cash or coefficient matters – his sole focus is on securing Aberdeen’s first Euro win this campaign for the fans.
Helsinki has been battered by heavy snow and more snow is forecast for during the Group G clash.
The temperature at game time is set to be minus 6C but that will feel like minus 14C due to the wind chill factor at the Bolt Arena.
Robson insists the harsh weather will not affect his squad as they trained in sub zero temperatures at Cormack Park before flying to Finland.
He said: “It is massive for us to get that first group win as we have 1,500 fans coming out to Helsinki.
“Those fans are hugely important to us.
“So we want to put on a good performance for them.
“It is really important.
“We spoke about getting that first win with the players.
“The frustration is that from the performances we have put in Europe I don’t think we are sitting on the points we deserve.”
No Euro dead rubbers for Robson
Aberdeen cannot qualify for the knock-out stages of the Europa Conference League as they have just two points after four games.
Greek club PAOK and German giants Eintracht Frankfurt have both qualified.
When asked if he could potentially give some players a rest and prioritise the domestic campaign, Robson said: “Try telling 1,500 fan who are coming over it is a dead rubber.
“We are playing for Aberdeen Football Club in Europe against a very strong team.”
Rewarding fans key, not prize money
There is still £470, 0000 (£435,000 for a group win) and four Uefa coefficient points to play for in the remaining two group games.
When asked if the prize money and coefficient would be in his mind, Robson said: “No, it is just about winning it for the fans.
“We want to perform well and put some points on the board.
“They have spent a lot of money to come to watch us in Finland – so that is the most important thing for us.
“All we are trying to be is our best as a club.
“To just play well in Europe and put in good performance.
“We deserve to be on more points than we have got.”
Learning valuable Euro lessons
Aberdeen are competing in the group stages of Europe for the first time since the Uefa Cup in 2007-08.
Robson rebuilt his squad in the summer transfer window with 13 new signings in a bid to balance Europe with domestic commitments.
Yet that first win in Europe still evades them.
Robson is confident his reconstructed squad are learning lessons in Europe.
He said: “We had a big rebuild in the summer.
“Some players have played at this level and some have not.
“We have learned a lot from playing in European games.
“The more you play in Europe the better you get and that is what we have done.”
No problems with conditions
Robson trained the Dons squad at the club’s Cormack Park complex on Wednesday morning before travelling to Finland.
Helsinki is being gripped by a big freeze, but Robson says that will be no problem for the Dons.
He said: “If I’m going to be honest I did a match prep at Cormack Pak this morning.
“I think that would have been minus three or four with the wind coming in.
“I don’t think it will be anything different to what we are used to.”
The 10,000-capacity Bolt Arena has an artificial pitch and the snow that fell heavily on Tuesday was quickly cleared from the surface.
Robson said: “We have to play in artificial surfaces when we are in Scotland at Kilmarnock and Livingston.
“So we are used to it. It is nothing new to us.”
Helsinki inactive for three weeks
They retained the league title on the final game of the season but have been inactive domestically ever since.
Their last game was a 1-0 home loss to Eintracht Frankfurt on November 9.
Robson said: “That could work in Helsinki’s favour.
“They have a whole season behind them though so I am expecting a tough game.
“We are probably the opposite as we have played a lot of matches.
“Helsinki are a good team and you saw with the way they moved the ball abut at Pittodrie.
“They will also be more used to playing on the astro.”