Celtic draw inspiration from cup run
Thursday 26 February 2004
Martin O'Neill has challenged his Celtic side to use the memory of last season's bitter Uefa Cup final disappointment in Seville to inspire another attempt to secure the trophy.
Celtic saw the silverware slip through their fingers when Porto beat them in extra time, but after being parachuted back into this season's competition from the Champions' League, the manager wants to go one better.
But O'Neill has told his side to ignore the fact that tonight's opponents, FK Teplice, do not possess the glamour of some of the visitors to Parkhead last season. The Czech Republic team have already beaten Feyenoord and Kaiserslautern.
"Any side that has knocked out Kaiserslautern and Feyenoord deserves respect," O'Neill said. "They have earned the right to be here. The Uefa Cup run last season gave us confidence but it has also made us aware of the need to focus. Boavista were not as strong a side as Vigo, Stuttgart or Liverpool but we could still have lost that semi-final. But there is definitely a bond among the lads now.
"We are a million miles from this season's final in Gothenburg but the thoughts of Seville do drive us on. We would love to go back to the final. We have a spirit here but I think it has been heightened by last year's experiences."
O'Neill will be without Shaun Maloney, who damaged knee ligaments on Monday, and Neil Lennon, who is suspended following his verbal assault on the referee Urs Meier in Lyon in December. Celtic felt that Meier cost them a place in the last 16 with his controversial late penalty award.
Alan Thompson missed that match because of suspension. The midfielder echoed O'Neill. "Seville was painful because we went so close," Thompson said. "However, it was still a career highlight. Look at the nights we had en route to Seville. We would all love to have that again. It does lift us for this one to try and achieve those highs again. We know as players how rewarding the Uefa Cup final can be."
Celtic (probable 3-5-2): Douglas; Varga, Balde, McNamara; Agathe, Lambert, Petrov, Pearson, Thompson; Larsson, Sutton.
FK Teplice (possible 4-4-2): Potgulka; Leitner, Rada, Kolar, Hunal; Tesarik, Horvath, Skala, Kuchar; Verbir, Divecky.
Referee: K Lautz (Austria).
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Emirates was the easy option for Mesut Ozil. He needs a leader - and Arsenal don't have them
Ronaldinho dream XI: John Terry, Frank Lampard and Claude Makelele are in as former Barcelona superstar names ideal side
UFC champion Ronda Rousey leaves presenter with broken ribs after he claims 'she can't compete with a man'
Gareth Bale reveals the two things he hates about Real Madrid: 'Getting nutmegged and Spanish spiders'
Cristiano Ronaldo shows off his dance moves, including the moonwalk
- 1 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 2 Kate Moss: Previously unpublished nude photo revealed by Mert and Marcus
- 4 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 5 Bad Jews poster 'censored' on London Tube
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
Nigel Farage promises Ukip will not 'stigmatise' would-be migrants – and says he wants 'everyone to speak the same language'