Deila: Play­ing in Ice­land will be just like a trip to Ding­wall

Cham­pi­ons League: Celtic man­ager in­sists side will be pitch per­fect in tie

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - SPORT -

Celtic man­ager Ronny Deila in­sists his play­ers will have no prob­lems adapt­ing to St­jar­nan’s plas­tic pitch and small ground in tonight’s Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fier.

The Scot­tish cham­pi­ons flew into Ice­land yesterday with a 2-0 lead from the first leg of the sec­ond qual­i­fi­ca­tion tie against the part-timers at Park­head last week.

How­ever, the Hoops’ 60,000-ca­pac­ity sta­dium stands in stark con­trast with St­jar­nan’s Sam­sungvoller ground which has an ar­ti­fi­cial pitch and only one stand which fits ap­prox­i­mately 1,000 spec­ta­tors.

Home boss Ru­nar Pall Sig­munds­son says it will be a chal­lenge for Celtic to play on his side’s pitch and hopes to make it dif­fi­cult for the visi­tors in tonight’s tie.

Deila, who re­vealed Nadir Ciftci’s six- game do­mes­tic ban for bit­ing be­fore his sum­mer move to Celtic from Dundee United would not be ap­pealed, re­sponded: “He has to take a trip to Scot­land and look at some games there.

“I don’t think he knows what Scot­land is about. It is not only Park­head in Scot­land.

“He can go to In­ver­ness and Ross County, places not so dif­fer­ent from this one.

“And I am very pos­i­tive about ar­ti­fi­cial sur­faces. It is much bet­ter to play on a good ar­ti­fi­cial than a very bad grass pitch.

“Every­body­wantsto play on a very good grass pitch like at Park­head but I think the sur­round­ings are go­ing to be like with the sur­face that we had to han­dle at Hamil­ton and Kil­marnock last sea­son – and we did that quite well.

“So I am­look­ing for­ward to the game.”

Deila was re­luc­tant to dis­cuss Ciftci, whoonMon­day re­ceived an eight-game ban – two of which are sus­pended – af­ter be­ing found guilty of bit­ing Jim McAlis­ter dur­ing a Dundee derby on the fi­nal day of last sea­son.

The 23-year-old for­ward will miss the first six games of the do­mes­tic sea­son but is free to play in Europe.

Asked if it was the club’s de­ci­sion to ac­cept the pun­ish­ment, Deila said: “Yes, we want to move on, that’s the most im­por­tant thing be­cause he has a long ca­reer here at Celtic and this is just the start.

“I haven’t talked so much about it to him. It hap- pened be­fore he came to Celtic so I haven’t put my­self into the case.

“Nadir has said he is a lit­tle bit dis­ap­pointed but that’s fine, we knew this could hap­pen and we have a lot of at­tack­ers at the club who­can­dothe job­whenhe is out.

“But he is ready for play­ing and look­ing for­ward to the next match.”

Celtic goal­keeper Craig Gor­don be­lieves the Icel andic out­fit showed enough last week in Glas­gow to sug­gest they could be a threat.

He said: “They­hada cou­ple of chances, es­pe­cially in the sec­ond half. One from the edge of the box was quite close.

“If they had nicked a goal it would have made this an even more dif­fi­cult task.

“We need to ap­proach the game in the right man­ner and make sure that we are de­fend­ing well first and fore­most and then look to score our­selves.”

Around 200 Hoops sup­port­ers are ex­pected to travel but St­jar­nan cap­tain Michael Praest in­sists the home sup­port­ers’ rau­cous back­ing will more than make up for their lack of num­bers.

“They will be sur­prised when they hear our sup­port­ers,” said the 28-yearold Dan­ish de­fender.

“They are the best in Ice­lan­dandthey are very loud, they help us a lot.

“They are usu­ally very good at mak­ing us feel welcome and the op­po­nents feel not too welcome.

“We hope for a lot of cheer­ing to help us get the re­sult we need.”

Celticde­fend­erVir­gilvan Dijk is avail­able again af­ter miss­ing the first leg­due­toa sus­pen­sion.

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