Deila: No problems with pitch

Date published: Tuesday 21st July 2015 10:01

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The Scottish champions head into the showdown with the Icelandic part-timers at the 1,000-capacity Samsungvoller ground with a 2-0 first-leg lead.

Stjarnan boss Runar Pall Sigmundsson has claimed it will be a “mental thing” for Celtic to play on his side’s artificial pitch and hoped to make it “hot” for the visitors.

However Deila, who revealed Nadir Ciftci’s six-game domestic ban for biting before his summer move to Celtic from Dundee United was accepted to allow the Turkish striker to “move on”, responded to the Stjarnan manager’s view.

“He has to take a trip to Scotland and look at some games there,” said the Norwegian. “I don’t think he knows what Scotland is about. It is not only Celtic Park 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 very bad grass pitch.

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

“So I am looking forward to the game.”

Deila was reluctant to discuss Ciftci, who on Monday 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 happened 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 okay, we knew that this could happen and we have a lot of strikers in the club that can do the job when he is out.

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

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

He said: “They had a 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 look to score ourselves.”

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

“You will be surprised when you see our fans,” said the 28-year-old Danish defender. “They are the best in Iceland and they 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.”

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