AEK ATHENS manager Marinos Ouzounidisis well aware of the world famous atmosphere that is generated at Celtic Park on the big European nights but reckons his side is well placed to cope with it.
The Greek Champions are of course well used to intense atmospheres from the big games in their own league so a trip to Celtic Park – or Paradise as Ouzounidisis calls it – should be something for his players to enjoy.
“I know they call Celtic Park a Paradise, but it will be a noisy Paradise,” Ouzounidisis said.
“We know that it won’t be a Paradise for us on Wednesday night. The atmosphere at Celtic Park is well known across Europe, but we will be ready for it.
“The players should enjoy the game. They should not be stressed out and give 100 per cent, do their best and play their normal game.
“Our players are used to the atmosphere when it is very noisy, it is like that in Greece with some of the big teams and big games.
“There will be a big crowd but we will concentrate on the game plan.
“The Celtic fans will shout for their team to win tomorrow night but we can’t let that affect us. When we are in Greece, the same thing will happen. The crowd will shout for their team.
“It is natural that Celtic are favourites. They are a huge club with big history and with a very good coach and they have been winning everything in Scotland in the last few years.
“They consider themselves a very good team and they have shown they can progress in Europe. They will hope to continue that success this year, so it will be a challenge for us.
“But we have come here to win.”
Ouzounidis reckons that his side can cope with the loss of influential captain Petros Mantalos, who yesterday failed a fitness test and did not travel today to Glasgow.
“He’s a very, very good player but we hope the replacement does just as well” the AEK Athens boss stated.
The winners of the tie between Celtic and AEK Athens will play the winners of the Malmo v Vidi tie and the first leg has in Sweden has ended in a 1-1 draw this evening with the Hungarian side – formerly known as Videoton coming from behind to grab an equaliser and an all important away goal.