Ange Postecoglou urges Celtic to Europa Conference League glory as star aligns with ‘not afraid’ message



Ange Postecoglou urged Celtic to seize their chance to run at Europa Conference League glory.

And the attacker Giorgos Giakoumakis is categorical: the team will not be afraid of anyone if they are in top form.

Celtic will face Bodo/Glimt on Thursday night with a place in the last 16 awaiting the winners of the two-legged crunch.

AS Roma, Marseille and Leicester are among the big clubs still involved in the competition.

But boss Postecoglou insists his troops must seize the opportunity to go further in the tournament and stand a chance of winning it.

He explained: “What’s the point of riding on Thursday night if you don’t think you can win anything?

“You play into these things to try to be successful.

“Why miss the opportunity if the opportunity is in front of you?

“If we can’t do that, we’ll dust ourselves off and start again next year.

“But you don’t go into something to just participate and potentially miss an opportunity to create something.

“For me, it’s about constantly exposing our players at this level and playing our football.

“You saw it in our group stage (of the Europa League). We ended up winning three games in a tough group.

“It’s not like we struggled, even though we didn’t succeed.

“We have seen an improvement there. We’re in a different competition now, but you look at the caliber of the remaining teams and there are still some fantastic clubs represented.

Bodo/Glimt Manager Kjetil Knutsen (R)

© SNS Group
Bodo/Glimt Manager Kjetil Knutsen (R)

“We have a big challenge against Bodo. It’s a European competition, there are fantastic teams and you know what European nights are like at Celtic Park.

“It’s a chance to test ourselves again, to measure ourselves and I’m delighted.”

Giakoumakis also believes in it and says: “I don’t know if we can win (the tournament) or not. Sometimes you also need luck.

“But, if we are the team we need to be, we are not afraid of anyone.”

Postecoglou is building a strong squad and will hope to be able to meet challenges at home and abroad if Celtic can have a spring run in the Conference.

But he added: “Hopefully I get the chance to find out. That’s all I can say. Let’s go this route if we’re in all three competitions and find out.

The Celtic manager is also confident that the hunger and drive of his ambitious troops will help them shine on the European stage.

New signing Matt O’Riley has been aiming for a World Cup spot in Qatar with Denmark and Postecoglou has others in the same boat.

He said: “It is part of the screening process. When I spoke to Matt, it was part of the process of me understanding him as a person.

“I could see how ambitious he was. He wants to be the best footballer he can be and reach the top.

“Whether at club or international, he wants to experience it all.

“What I’m hoping for is having a dressing room full of that and those are the players we’ve brought in.

“They are extremely ambitious, extremely driven and want to be the best.

“If you have a closet full of that, it helps push you.

“There is a number. Josip (Juranovic) is going to a World Cup. I’m sure Cal (McGregor) and the Scottish guys want it too. Tommy Rogic, Kyogo and the Japanese boys.

“From that point of view, it’s the kind of dressing that I want with motivated and ambitious players and the best they can.”

Postecoglou, meanwhile, confirmed Juranovic is back available for tonight’s tie after being out since the win over Motherwell 11 days ago, but ineligible Yosuke Ideguchi and Mikey Johnston, who has a back injury. ankle, are absent.

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