Niall McGinn has called on the Pittodrie crowd to create a “hostile atmosphere” so Aberdeen can dump Chikhura Sachkhere out of Euro qualifying.
The Dons meet the Georgians in the Granite City tonight in the Europa League second qualifying round return leg after a 1-1 draw in Tbilisi.
Sam Cosgrove’s penalty cancelled out Irakli Lekvtadze’s spot-kick in the first 90 minutes, but an early injury to centre-back Ash Taylor and resultant reshuffles meant it wasn’t a comfortable evening for the Reds.
However, McGinn says Derek McInnes’ team are feeling confident after going toe to toe with Chikhura in Georgia’s almost-empty national stadium.
He said: “We’ll be confident. Looking back on last week, the boys put in a good performance.
“The away goal’s a cushion for us as well, but we can’t go into the mindset of concentrating on having that. We need to go out and give another strong performance to win the game.
“We’re back home, in front of the crowd again, so we want to play with the same tempo and momentum we did against the Finnish team (RoPS Rovaniemi in the first round) – we got at them, created plenty of chances and we want to get on the front foot quite quickly in the game.
“Hopefully we score a couple of goals.”
McGinn wasn’t surprised Chikhura were able to compete with Aberdeen.
He expects them to come to Pittodrie to sit in, hitting the Dons on the break. But he thinks the Red Army can help see McInnes’ men through to a third round tie against Croatians Rijeka.
McGinn said: “You can tell they’ve got a few tactically very good footballers.
“Given time on the ball they can punish you.
“You’re going to these countries, you maybe don’t know too much about them, but you can guarantee there are good players out there.
“From playing on the international stage, I’ve been to all of these countries before and they’re always technically good on the ball.
“Last week they caused us problems when we lost the ball. Possession was turned over and they were really good on the counter-attack.
“They’ll come here with the same mindset to weather the storm a little bit.
“Hopefully the fans can come out in their numbers and create a hostile atmosphere for us.”
A near sell-out Pittodrie will be totally different to the “strange” situation the Dons faced in Tbilisi, with less than 1,000 Chikhura and Reds fans in the 54,500 capacity arena.
Taylor’s injury after 15 minutes – diagnosed as a torn hamstring – upset Aberdeen’s attacking rhythm, as Jon Gallagher and then Ryan Hedges were forced to fill in at full-back to allow Andy Considine to fill in at centre-half.
Left-back Greg Leigh’s return tonight will ensure all of the Dons’ attacking talents are free to hurt Chikhura, according to McGinn.
He said: “It knocked us a wee bit. We started really well in the game, were getting on the front foot and creating chances.
“When Ash went down it was a bit of a blow. We’ve got strength and depth, but when Mikey Devlin gets injured and then Ash, it’s not ideal in the centre-back position.
“Andy Considine’s come in. He’s played centre-half on numerous occasions and fitted in comfortably.
“We’ve got Greg Leigh back tomorrow night, which will give us back the balance we’re used to and allow our attacking players to get forward and create chances.
“We’ve work hard behind the scenes this week on different things we’ll try and do in the game.”