Stephen Kenny: The players are human but they've performed heroically this year

Dundalk face AZ Alkmaar on Thursday night in Tallaght Stadium

Dundalk, Stephen Kenny

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny celebrates after the game ©INPHO/James Crombie

Dundalk host AZ Alkmaar on Thursday at Tallaght Stadium with qualification for the knock-out stages of the Europa League within their grasp.

The Irish side currently sit on four points, level with Maccabi Tel-Aviv and two ahead of AZ. 

Speaking earlier at a pre-match press conference, Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny is looking forward to a good performance in south Dublin.

"We can still take confidence particularly from the three home games here," he said. "The three games here have been outstanding. BATE Borisov 3-0, Macabbi a convincing 1-0 win and Zenit St. Petersburg here which we went toe-to-toe for large periods of the game.

"I think the three performances here have been up there with any performances out of Irish team.

"Tallaght has been good to us in that regard. We seem to have produced some terrific performances here. So we can take real confidence from that," he added.

Speaking of their Dutch opposition he said: "To be fair to AZ Alkmaar, they are a terrific club. People travel the world to view the Ajax academy. I know myself as a coach, nearly every coach on every coaching course wants to go and view the Ajax academy and yet AZ have been voted the best academy in Holland for the last two years.

"They have real, real strength and dept. They have a lot of good players with a large depth to their squad.

"We need to get as result tomorrow and a result in Israel to qualify. A draw could very well be a good result," he added.

Asked about a comparison between his own side and the success of Premier League winners Leicester City, Kenny said: "Obviously with Leicester... I’m surprised that people are surprised that Leicester came out of the group. I would have seen them surely as favourites to come out of that group being the English champions.

"Don’t forget you can’t compare that. To win the Premier League was amazing by them, I must say. But if they’ve got Jamie Vardy, the English number nine who can turn down a move to Arsenal because he’s being offered a similar contract by Leicester – that has no comparison. Some of our players who would earn less than a 100th of that. So I think it’s not really comparable.

"The fact that Leicester would beat Brugges last night, I would fully expect them to beat Brugges. Their budget would probably be four or five times the size of Bruges so I don’t think that is such a shock.

"I think what we’re achieving is on a much greater scale. We’re the lowest ranked team in the Europa League but we haven’t progressed through the group like Leicester have, they have progressed already. They’re a massive club, Leicester, in their own right and they have full houses every week.

"Where they have come from, from the bottom end of the Championship to win the Premier League is an unbelievable story and I’m not diminishing that but I just think that in a European context...for our point of view, nobody gave us a chance of getting a point and we still have a lot to do to get through – we have to get two results.

"This is a journey where we’ve come from nowehere and we understand we’ve come from nowhere. We had nothing. We have come from the bottom of our own league to go and win three-in-a-row and to be on the verge of qualifying for the last 32, we’re very determined to achieve that.

"Now AZ are standing in our way tomorrow and they’re in the way of our progress."