Redknapp cautious after European draw smiles on Spurs

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Tottenham Hotspur were yesterday handed the easiest possible draw in the Champions League play-off, against the Swiss runners-up Young Boys Berne, the lowest-ranked team they could have drawn.

Spurs avoided the likes of Dynamo Kiev and Sampdoria and will play the first leg in Switzerland. Tottenham's only previous European meeting with Swiss opposition ended in a 9-1 aggregate win over Grasshoppers in the 1973-74 Uefa Cup.

Manager Harry Redknapp was impressed with Young Boys' victory over Fenerbahce in the previous round, particularly a 1-0 win in Istanbul. And he said the north London side will be wary of playing on astroturf during the first leg in two weeks' time.

Redknapp said: "We'll be favourites, obviously, but we have to give them the utmost respect. They beat Fenerbahce in the last round and we watched the first leg on DVD and they could have won four or five, they hammered them at home.

"They then went away and won in Turkey. They also have an astroturf pitch at their stadium and they play well on it, so it will be a tough game. To win in Turkey is a great result and there are no easy games anymore.

"We'll have to be prepared for it but we've Manchester City first in the Premier League and that's the first priority. We'll get that one out of the way and then it will be into the Champions League."

Tottenham qualified for the Champions League play-off round for the first time in their history last season, pipping big-spending Manchester City to fourth place in the penultimate game of the season.

But Redknapp warned that last season's achievements will mean little if Tottenham fail to overcome the Swiss side.

"It's great for the club. It's been a long time coming and we have to all make sure we get through this qualifying round and into the group stages if we can," Redknapp said.

"It won't be easy. We show them absolutely the utmost respect and that's what they deserve. They have good players. We've got to try to get into the group stages and that would be fantastic. We'll then have some great games to look forward to – if we can make it. As I said though, I can't look beyond this play-off match, that wouldn't be fair."

Who are young boys?

*Founded in 1898, BSC Young Boys are based in Berne, Switzerland, and play at the Stade de Suisse.

*The club has won 11 Swiss league titles, 6 domestic cups and reached the European Cup semi-finals in 1959. Bolton's Gretar Steinsson, Hull's Kamil Zayatte, and former Blackburn midfielder Lars Bohinen are amongst the club's former players.

*Among their current squad is Enfield-born Spurs supporter Scott Sutter who was on the books of Aston Villa before moving to Switzerland at 16. "It's a good draw but the hardest," he said. "For the spectacle, it's the best. Tottenham is a name in the world like Liverpool or Chelsea, so for us it's a big, big game."