OWEN Coyle hailed ‘an outstanding European debut’ as Wigan Athletic kicked off their campaign with a point in Belgium.
Latics defended manfully for the duration of the goalless draw against Zulte Waregem, and were hanging on for dear life at the death.
After hitting the post inside three minutes through James McArthur, Latics were forced back by a Zulte side who hit the bar and forced Scott Carson into several good saves.
“From start to finish it was an outstanding debut in European football for everyone associated with the football club,” acknowledged Coyle.
“The players performed out of their skins and defended well when they had to.
“Our 2,500 fans sang their hearts out in the torrential rain, and gave the players a lot to fight for.
“Equally, the players are sending them home with a smile on their face because it is certainly a well-earned point.
“We knew that at different periods we were going to have to stand up and defend well.
“I said before the game that Zulte Waregem have some very good attacking players, and nothing has altered my opinion.
“We knew that and obviously they were the home team and trying to push on late in the game.
“Having said that, as much as we had to defend well, if we had taken care a little bit more on the counter-attack we could have scored a couple of goals ourselves.”
Coyle made seven changes to the side which lost at Leicester, with Latics back in action this Sunday for the visit of Ipswich.
“We have got three games in just a few days,” the Wigan boss added.
“This is a fantastic competition and we have built a squad where we believe that we can make changes that are like for like and not detrimental to the team.
“I believe we had as strong a team out as we did at Leicester, and we made seven changes.
“So come Sunday against Ipswich, we will make a number of changes again because that is the squad we are building.
“I think we have to give balance and understand that we could be scheduled to play around 60 games this season, and I have to utilise that squad as well as I can.
“But the ones who came - every one of them stood up as a man and performed as I would want a Wigan Athletic team to do.”