St Patrick’s Athletic continue their European campaign this coming Thursday in the unusual setting of Kazakhstan as they face Shakhter Karagandy in their Europa League Second Round Qualifying match which will kick off at 2pm Irish time.
Having seen off IBV by 2 goals to 1 in the last qualifying round St Pats will be approaching the trip to Kazakhstan with cautious optimism despite been without the services of Danny North, who is their leading scorer this season with 12 goals thus far, and Dave Mulcahy who remain in Dublin to continue their rehab on their hamstring and calf injuries respectively.
Pete Mahon’s side are boosted however by the news that Conor Kenna travelled with the squad and should be fit enough to have some involvement in the game.
Along with their win in Europe Pats have been riding high in the Airtricity Premier League this season. They currently sit in third place and one point off league leaders Sligo Rovers and have been one of the best attacking sides in the league.
They will need to be at their best however if they are to keep the game alive because although they are not well known outside their country, Shakhter Karagandy will be no pushover for the Irish side. In the last round they defeated FC Koper of Slovenia 3-1 on aggregate
The main danger that St Pats will have to guard against is 19 year old Sergei Khizhnichenko. The Kazakhstan native has played 18 times this season and has scored 11 goals to help his team to third in their Premier division.
Zhambyl Kukeyev is also one player St Pats will have to keep an eye on. The young midfielder has scored 5 goals this term and is the heart that Shakhter Karagandy play through.
Despite playing away from home St Pats should have enough in them to at the least score that all important away goal that will help them when the sides return to Inchicore. An away win would be the perfect result for the Dublin side but a score draw appears the most likely outcome from this game.
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