CELTIC on Thursday evening – 6pm Celtic Park time incidentally – enter the Last Chance Saloon in Lithuania. We play against 2002 rivals FK Suduva. Back then we were feeling much the same as we do now. We took a 3-1 lead to Switzerland but lost 2-0 to Basel to miss out on the Champions League.
The UEFA Cup was the consolation and our first opponent on that particular journey was FK Suduva. They had a V in their name and that would prove significant as a remarkable series of results emerged for Celtic against sides with V in their name that took us all the way to Seville, with a V.
Unfortunately there was no V in Porto but what a journey we had.
A handful of Celtic fans will hope to begin another journey on Thursday as they make their way to Lithuania to support the team. These are a remarkable group of supporters who seldom get the credit that they deserve.
Anyway what is at stake is a place in the Europa League Group Stages, or of course an early exit from European football all together.
Jozo Simunovic is determined to ensure that that catastrophe is avoided and that Celtic go to Lithuania and bring back a comfortable win for the second leg next week. Speaking in this week’s Celtic View, Jozo outlines his thoughts on what Celtic need to do against FK Suduva.
“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.
“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.”
Simunovic remains upbeat despite the recent defeats in Edinburgh and Athens and is adamant that the Celtic squad’s team spirit remains strong.
“That unity and togetherness never disappeared,” the Croatian defender 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.”