Football / Celtic
CELTIC head out to Lithuania this week for the first leg of their UEFA Europa League play-off tie against FK Suduva, and Brendan Rodgers’ side will be aiming to establish a good lead before the return leg at Paradise on August 30.
Back in 2002, the Celts trounced the Lithuanian side 10-1 on aggregate on their way to reaching the UEFA Cup final in Seville, but Brendan Rodgers and his players are well aware that Suduva will be a more formidable foe 16 years on.
After travelling to Marijampole this week for the away leg, the Scottish champions will hope to be in a healthy position for the return match in Parhead.
Although the Hoops will be able to rely on the backing of a bumper home crowd on the night, Jozo Simunovic is adamant that he and his colleagues need to earn their support by performing to a high standard on the pitch.
“We’ll have to go and win, take every chance and stay together, and if we play well then we know the fans will be behind us,” Simunovic told the media
“Their support means a lot to us, but, as players, we have to focus on ourselves, take responsibility and show we deserve their support. My message to the fans would be very simple – we are going to give everything over the next few games to take the opportunity to reach the Europa League group stages.”
And the Croatian defender insisted that the camaraderie and team spirit within the Celtic dressing room remains as strong as ever.
“That unity and togetherness never disappeared,” he said. “It has been there all the time, and we’re going to show that the loss to AEK Athens was just unlucky. We are Celtic and we are going to keep going forward.”