Derek McInnes aims for Aberdeen away goal in Europa League

By Alasdair LamontBBC Scotland in Kazakhstan
Aberdeen players trained in Kasakhstan after travelling across five time zones
Aberdeen players trained in Kasakhstan after travelling across five time zones
Europa League third qualifying round first leg: Kairat v Aberdeen
Venue: Central Stadium, Almaty Date: Thursday 30 July Kick-off: 15:45 BST
Coverage: BBC Radio Scotland & live text on BBC Sport website

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has acknowledged how vital an away goal could be to their hopes of progression in the Europa League.

The Dons face Kairat Almaty in Kazakhstan in Thursday's Europa League third qualifying round first leg.

And McInnes's men have scored away goals in four of their last five European ties.

"We want to make sure the result tomorrow gives us the opportunity to go through in the home tie," said McInnes.

"It's always an important part of the tie if you can get that away goal. All the away games we've played in the last couple of seasons we've scored bar the Real Sociedad game, and obviously Sociedad put us out. So in that context we realise the importance."

McInnes says he is satisfied with their preparation for the game after travelling overnight on Tuesday, despite a five-hour time difference and the heat in Almaty.

Aberdeen players celebrating
The Dons beat Rijeka 5-2 on aggregate in the last round

"The flight wasn't a problem, the majority of the players slept," he said. "We wanted to try and keep on our timezone and have the players sleeping when they should be sleeping and I think the majority did that.

"Last year's experience will help. We've been to Macedonia, Croatia and now Kazakhstan. It becomes a routine about how we prepare and how we quickly adapt.

"I think the team's shown a maturity in both campaigns, none more so than in Croatia and managing the game as well as we did at home. We want to show we're a good side and I think the team have shown that time and time again."

The Dons have been boosted by the news that Kairat's top goalscorer Gerard Gohou is set to miss the game, while Spanish forward Sito Riera is also a doubt.

McInnes added: "Obviously he's one of a number of players that Kairat have that have started the season very well and he's been an influential player for them, but they have many good players and they have shown they are not totally dependent on one player.

"There's no doubt that he is a good player, someone who knows how to score goals and cause the opposition problems, but I'm sure the size of squad Kairat have and the quality they have they'll have an able replacement.

"I think it's difficult to quantify who is the better side. Both teams have good qualities. We respected Rijeka and we respect Kairat.

"We play to win but we try to utilise the quality of our players best. We have lots of pace, good technical ability, and good size and presence."

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