Cypriot underdogs Omonia are fired up to face Premier League giants Manchester United on Thursday at Nicosia’s GSP stadium for the crucial game in the Europa League Group stage.
“It is a privilege to face United.
“It’s just as important for us. We will want to compete and try to get something from the game.
“We have been looking forward to the game since the day we were drawn in the same group,” said Omonia coach Neil Lennon.
The gaffer acknowledged that his team has a hard task, but the team is in good form and will be throwing everything at United on Thursday night.
Talking on behalf of the players, Manchester-grown Brandon Barker said his team are ready to get on the pitch and fight for the club.
“The lads last year put up a strong fight for a ticket to the Europa League, winning the cup.
“We also fought our way to the group stage. We need to take it all in, enjoy the game and try and walk away with something,” said Barker.
Barker, who spent his youth career at United’s arch-rivals Manchester City’s academy, said the game was particularly special to him.
Asked what the team needed to do to beat the English side, Omonia’s coach jokingly replied, “score more goals than them”.
“We will have to be on our best form.
“We will need Fabiano (goalkeeper) to put in some great saves.
“We will need to be disciplined at the back and put in energy when on the counter-attack,” said Lennon.
He will be the second British boss to go up against United in charge of an overseas club.
The distinction of being the only British gaffer to coach a non-UK team in a match with United belongs to Bruce Rioch. He was managing Danish outfit Aalborg when the Reds visited them for a Champions League group game in September 2008.
Lennon also has a fond memory of beating Manchester United as a Celtic player.
Lennon faced United in two Champions League group games in 2006/07 when the two clubs traded home wins.
United won 3-2 at Old Trafford in September 2006, with Celtic winning their home game 1-0.
Lennon – who now faces United as a manager 16 years later – captained the Scottish champions in both matches.
“I asked for a sexy group before the draw.
“It would be fantastic if we could get something from the game tomorrow. There is a lot of love for United in Cyprus, and we want to rise to the occasion,” said Lennon.
United need a response in the game against Omonia following the poor showing against rivals Manchester City on Sunday.
The 6-3 mauling looks to have undone some of the positive momenta Erik ten Hag managed to build after an opening couple of losses in the Premier League.
They are currently sixth in the league and second in the Europa League D Group with one win off Moldavian Sheriff Tiraspol.
Omonia is fourth in the Cyprus league, three points from the top.
Their European campaign got off to a bad start after losing 3-0 at home to Sheriff Tiraspol.
The Greens almost walked away with a draw from Real Sociedad in Spain; after putting up a good fight, the game was decided by a late goal to make it 2-1.