Tottenham's Europa League hopes alive insists Sebastien Bassong

 

Sebastien Bassong still believes Tottenham's hopes of winning the Europa League are alive despite their 1-0 defeat to Rubin Kazan last night.

Spurs touch down at Stansted airport this morning having tasted their first defeat in the competition thanks to Bebras Natcho's 55th minute free-kick winner in Russia last night.

Spurs, who were without manager Harry Redknapp as he recovered from a heart procedure, were top of Group A before last night's game, but they are now just behind second-place Rubin in the table on goals scored.

Despite playing his second string in the Europa League, Redknapp has always declared his desire to go on and win the competition.

They will clear a major hurdle in achieving that goal if they can beat PAOK Salonika at home and Shamrock Rovers away to top the group and avoid the teams that drop out from the Champions League.

Given their strength in depth, Bassong thinks it is still likely that Spurs will top their group.

He said: "We can still finish top of the group. There are two games left. We'll get the chance to put things right.

"We've got a strong squad and quality players so there is no reason why we can't finish first or second."

Bassong was the man who was at fault for the goal. The Cameroon defender, who earlier had spoken of his desire to leave Tottenham in January, tried to dribble out of his own box, but lost control of the ball and hacked down Alexander Ryazantsev to give away the free-kick which Natcho scored.

The former Newcastle man was apologetic after the match, saying: "What can I say? I told the lads: 'Sorry, I should have cleared it.'

"It's simple. I should have cleared the ball and I took an extra touch, an extra bad touch. I didn't see him coming and when I found out it was too late because I had a bad touch.

"I was praying it wouldn't be a goal but it was."

Redknapp, meanwhile, was released from hospital yesterday and watched the match at home.

The club could decide today whether the 64-year-old will be allowed to take charge of Sunday's Barclays Premier League game at Fulham.

Bassong revealed last night that the first the squad knew about Redknapp's heart problems was when they boarded the plane for Russia on Wednesday morning.

"I first found out about it at the airport," Bassong said.

"He didn't tell us. I asked and someone told he me wasn't coming.

"Then a couple of hours later someone told me he was in hospital."

Carlo Cudicini, who pulled off a number of top-class saves to stop Rubin winning more convincingly, added: "It's true. We didn't know.

"You ask questions when you don't see the manager so we were surprised. Of course we wish him all the best for his recovery.

"I know he wasn't well a few days before this game but if he had the chance to watch this game he will have watched it."

PA

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