ANGE POSTECOGLOU hopes to savour the atmosphere of a packed Parkhead this evening – and be able to look back and smile while he’s “long-retired and sitting on a Greek island somewhere”.
The Celtic boss will lead his players into the second leg of the Europa League qualifier against Jablonec and, barring a catastrophe, they will meet Dutch outfit AZ Alkmaar in the play-off final.
The Hoops are already 4-2 ahead following a fine performance against the Czechs a week ago when Liel Abada, Kyogo Furuhashi, James Forrest and Ryan Christie shared the goals. A massive crowd will be at the stadium for the first time since March 7 last year when just under 60,000 supporters witness a 5-0 victory over St Mirren before the nation went into lockdown.
There were 24,500 followers allowed in on Sunday for the 6-0 rout of Dundee and Postecoglou is determined for the team to continue the regained surge in confidence as his revamp takes shape.
The Celtic gaffer, speaking to the Glasgow Times, said: “The last two games have obviously gone well. I think there’s an opportunity to build momentum because of the circumstances. Being a European fixture with a full house, it’s a unique set of circumstances of which we want to take advantage.
“If we can have another positive performance and get a positive result it creates a good atmosphere moving forward and gives everyone encouragement – the players and our supporters. It is a good opportunity to do that.
“The benefits for the team are significant. It will be my first time with that, but it will also be so significant for the boys who have been here a while. It will be a sharp contrast with what they went through last year with no supporters.
“We don’t need reminding that the supporters are the lifeblood of a football club – particularly this football club – and what they add to the arena and a game of football. I think they will all be excited, even the Callum McGregors who have been here for so long.
“Walking out in front of 60,000 at Celtic Park on a European night, for all of us it will be a special occasion.”
Postecoglou guided his Australian international side to an Asian Cup triumph in 2015 with 76,385 fans looking on in Sydney – and he is looking forward to sampling the unique atmosphere under the lights at Celtic Park on a European night.
The 55-year-old coach, who was born in Athens and who left at the age of five when his family looked for a future in Australia, added: “I’ve been fortunate to be involved in quite a few big games in front of big crowds and they all hold their own significance.
“They’re all great. I’ve been pretty lucky that, in most of them, the results have gone my way, which helps you to remember that experience fondly.
“I’ve no doubt that tonght will be one of those occasions that, when I’m long retired and sitting on a Greek island somewhere, I’ll reflect on, hopefully in a positive way, about a great performance.”
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