Aberdeen face 'huge challenge'

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The Independent Online

Ebbe Skovdahl, the Aberdeen manager, has taken the step of warning his side that tonight's Uefa Cup first round first leg visitors to Pittodrie, Hertha Berlin, are as good as any team in the English Premiership.

Ebbe Skovdahl, the Aberdeen manager, has taken the step of warning his side that tonight's Uefa Cup first round first leg visitors to Pittodrie, Hertha Berlin, are as good as any team in the English Premiership.

Both Aberdeen and Hertha have been struggling in their respective leagues this season, although the situation is expected to be a temporary one for the Germans, who finished fourth in the Bundesliga last term.

"The top six or seven sides in the Bundesliga are as good as anything in the Premiership," Skovdahl said. "Hertha are a similar quality to Rangers and Celtic in this country and it's a huge challenge, but it is one the players are determined to meet."

Aberdeen's supporters will be hoping for a chance to revisit their European glory nights of the 1980s, but their manager is preaching caution. "We know it's vitally important we don't concede anything in the first leg especially at home," he stressed. His hopes of keeping a clean sheet could be boosted with the return of the Danish international goalkeeper Peter Kjaer.

Rangers travel to Prague to take on Viktoria Zizkov, the surprise package of the Czech league, with the Ibrox manager, Alex McLeish, admitting he knows next to nothing about a side who almost carried off their domestic title last season.

Injuries to Arthur Numan, Lorenzo Amoruso, Neil McCann and Stephen Hughes have stretched the Ibrox club's resources. However, McLeish has drafted two youngsters into the squad, the Scotland Under-21 international Andy Dowie and the midfielder Jimmy Gibson. Sixteen-year-old Charlie Adam is also in the party but will take no part.

The match has been moved from Viktoria's small ground to the huge Strahov stadium, such is the interest in the tie.

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