Brentford B Head Coach looks ahead to Brann Bergen clash in Kai Thor Cup
Brentford B face Norwegian side Brann Bergen in the Final of the Kai Thor Cup tomorrow afternoon at a rescheduled 12:15 local time kick-off. B Team Head Coach Kevin O'Connor sat down with brentfordfc.co.uk less than 24 hours before the match to share his thoughts on the upcoming tie and reflect on the group stage of the competition.
"The Esbjerg match wasn't great," said Kevin. "It was the first game, there was a lot of build up to it and it was disappointing the way we conceded the goals. We semi-controlled the game but were on the back foot after conceding, scored an equaliser then conceded straight away. There was a little bit of panic stations from the boys so ultimately that was disappointing.
"Then we had the quick turnaround and they came out and produced a fantastic performance. We needed at least a two-nil win to give us a chance to top the group and, all credit to the boys, they did that.
"Some of the senior players in the squad were really good in the changing room, they did a lot of the talking. I listened, agreed with most of it, and was really impressed. The way we started the second game, going two-nil up, was pleasing and we could have got more in the end."
Sunday's Final sees the format shift from 60-minute games to full 90-minute encounters. This is something Kevin thinks can only improve his side's performance.
"I think it will help," he said. "It's what we are used to. We just have to make sure we take the performance from the Hamburg game into the Final. Then if we perform like that, whatever happens, I will be happy.
"The lads knew yesterday that it was only 60 minutes, so in the first game we went behind twice and it was all a bit panicked. You feel like you have less time to get the equaliser in those situations. Hopefully tomorrow will be more of a normal game and we can do what we're good at."
This will be the first competitive final for the B Team this season. When asked about the pressure on his players, Kevin replied that it hasn't been obviously noticeable.
"They don't show it. If a few of them were honest, they probably are deep down. I would be, but it's what they want to do and they've got to get used to it. It's a great opportunity for them to go and show what they can do under pressure in the final of a mini-tournament.
"I try and guide them and give them my experience on a few bits and pieces. Ultimately, they are the ones who have got to go and do it and perform. I'll help them as much as I can but once they pass over that white line, there's only so much the staff can do."
In terms of the atmosphere around the game, the staff are trying to ensure it feels like any other game in the dressing room.
"We've just done an analysis meeting and gone through some key points, so it's normal preparation from us," said Kevin. "The boys know the surface, they know what we expect and I feel like they are ready to give a good performance. If they do that, I'll be happy."