Former Institute defender Stephen O’Donnell is looking forward to Coleraine’s Europa League clash in Spartak Subotica on Thursday night.
The skipper hopes the Bannsiders players have learned from the heavy loss to Haugesund at this stage of last season’s Europa League competition.
“Having played last year as a group, we didn’t get the result we wanted but we learned a lot last year and I think that stood us in good stead for the season,” he insisted
“The lessons we learned about game management and how to play against quality opposition, this season is about showing ‘this is what we have learned from last season’, ‘this is how well we have improved as a team and as a group’ and for this European tie it’s about being competitive.
“Last year we genuinely weren’t competitive, yes we lost to a better team, but this year it’s about trying to go one step better, be competitive and hopefully we can go out and do well on Thursday and bring it back to the Showgrounds for something to play for.
“If you want to be successful then these are the games you want to be involved in and yes it’s a different style of football completely.
“It’s a lot more technical than maybe the Irish League and it’s a lot more demanding in terms of your mental concentration, but it’s something we are looking forward to and Thursday night’s first leg tie is about showing what we have learned from last season.
“We feel as a group, with the quality we have in the changing room, we can genuinely go and be competitive.”
Oran Kearney’s side travel to Serbia today (Tuesday) and the Gobnascale man feels their Europa League opener can be the start of what he hopes will be another successful season.
In fact O’Donnell feels that the Showgrounds men need to try and keep improving year in, year out and European football has to be a permanent fixture along with challenging for the top honours in the Irish League.
If you want to be successful then these are the games you want to be involved in and yes it’s a different style of football completely.Stephen O’Donnell
“It’s a big season for us to make sure that we go one step better than last year, whether that means we go and be successful in one of the cups again or whether that means being successful in the league or being competitive in Europe,” he added.
“I think it’s important to go one step further this season and show that we have learned from last year and make sure whatever it maybe, that we improve on the season that we had.
“I have said it before, but this club needs to be in Europe every single year and I think last year was the first time the club was in Europe for a number of years, so going forward I think the bare minimum aim has to be achieving European football every year.
“But in my opinion, the team that we have and the quality of player that we have, I feel we have to be challenging at the top end of the league and be right in there for the cup competitions, year in year out.”