GIORGOS GIAKOUMAKIS insists he and his team-mates will treat the Europa Conference League as seriously as any other continental competition as Celtic prepare to bow out in the new tournament.
Ange Posetecoglou’s side host Bodo/Glimt on Thursday night before traveling to Norway the following week for the second leg with the Eliteserien champions, with a place in the last 16 of the competition up for grabs.
There are those who were quick to mock and denigrate UEFA’s latest brainchild, but Giakoumakis is not one of them.
Indeed, the centre-forward – who left VVV-Venlo for Celtic after finishing last season as Eredivisie top scorer – said he would give his all to secure the Glasgow club’s progress in the competition.
“It’s one of our goals, it’s really important,” said Giakoumakis. “Of course, it’s a new competition that didn’t exist in recent years.
“It’s something new but it’s a European game for us, it’s like playing in the Europa League or the Champions League.
“It’s a great night for us and for the fans and we’ll try to make them happy again.
“Of course we can go as far as we can in this competition. I don’t see why we can’t dream big – this team is made to dream big.”
The 27-year-old had a difficult start to life at Parkhead as injuries and inconsistent performances saw the striker in and out of Postecoglou’s starting XI during the first half of the campaign.
After scoring his fourth goal of the season in the weekend’s 4-0 win over Raith Rovers in the Scottish Cup, he feels increasingly settled at Celtic – which Giakoumakis believes will lead to better performances on the ground.
“Day after day, I feel better,” he added. “Of course I have a lot of things to improve and I hope that in the next games I will be even better for the team. I always want to improve and raise my level as a player.
“Mentally, it was really hard for me before. I had to fight to get fit and then to help my teammates realize what kind of player I am.
“Now I feel more comfortable in the team.”