David Moyes outlines Europa Conference League ambitions but insists West Ham will take AEK Larnaca seriously

 (Action Images via Reuters)
(Action Images via Reuters)

David Moyes has welcomed West Ham’s tag as one of the favourites to win the Europa Conference League.

The Hammers are away to Cypriot side AEK Larnaca in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Thursday night.

West Ham were the only team to win all of their Europa Conference League group games, topping a group featuring Anderlecht, Danish side Silkeborg and Romania’s FCSB.

Their domestic form has been much worse though and the recent 4-0 win over Nottingham Forest was not the springboard to an upturn in form they hoped it would be — as they then lost to Brighton by the same scoreline last weekend.

“I’d love to win the competition,” Moyes said. “We wanted desperately to win the Europa League last season, but we couldn’t quite get past the semi-final.

“It’s great to be at this stage of the competition. To have European football at quarter-final level for the last two years would be huge for us. I want to go as far as we can, and win it if possible.”

West Ham’s opponents were only founded in 1994 and finished second in the Cypriot First Division last season ahead of welcoming Moyes’ side to the 8,000-seater Georgios Karapatakis Arena.

“We’ve had some brilliant results in Europe this year,” the manager continued. “If we can keep up the form we’ve had in Europe, it would be terrific. We’ve got a second leg to play at home and we’d hope to try and use it to our advantage.

“I’m expecting an incredibly tough game from a side who, I feel at the moment, have got good momentum in that league. They won at the weekend. They’ve got an experienced team which have played quite a lot in Europe.

“They started off in the Champions League [qualifiers], went into the Europa League and now find themselves in the Conference League all in the one season.

“It sounds easy to say a Premier League team against a Cypriot team, but we’re certainly not going into the game in that way.”