(Reuters) - Defender Virgil van Dijk believes Southampton have the ability to go on a long run in the Europa league if they can come out on top when they host Hapoel Be‘er Sheva in their crunch final Group K game on Thursday.
Claudio Puel’s side are level on seven points with the Israeli side but a scoreless draw or victory will send them into the round of 32 as runners up.
“With the quality we have in the team, I think we have a chance to go far in the competition,” van Dijk told the club website.
“Obviously, we’ve had some good games and bad games, but I think in every game we’ve had chances to win.”
Southampton started their campaign by beating Sparta Prague 3-0 at home but were held to a goalless draw in Israel before losing 1-0 to Inter Milan, who prop up Group K.
The south coast club then defeated Inter in the return fixture but fell 1-0 to Sparta Prague in their last Europa League game.
However, central defender van Dijk is confident of overcoming their opponents at St Mary’s Stadium.
“We’ve made it a bit difficult for ourselves with the away results,” the Dutchman, who has captained the side in all five Group K games, added.
“We need to be focused ... It’s going to be a tough game ... They’re a good opponent ... physical as well. So, we need to be prepared, but I‘m confident.”
“It’s going to be a different game without their fans. I think their fans played a big part over there.”
Most importantly, van Dijk said, the team must not rely on the no score draw option.
“We definitely need to go and try to win the game,” he said. “I think if you play for a 0-0 it goes the wrong way.”
Reporting by Debanjan Bose in Bengaluru, editing by Nick Mulvenney