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Football: Celtic can repeat Euro heroics says Lustig

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Mikel Lustig admits Celtic are determined to prove last season's run to the last 16 of the Champions League wasn't a one-off.

Neil Lennon's team are preparing to host Swedish champions Elfsborg in the third qualifying round of this season's competition on Wednesday after cruising past Northern Irish minnows Cliftonville in the last round.

The Scottish champions earned over £20 million from last season's run to the last 16, which included a famous group stage win over Barcelona.

And Celtic's Swedish defender Lustig sees no reason why the Hoops can't upset a few more of the big guns in Europe's elite competition.

"We want to show the people we aren't just a one-off after what we did last year in the competition," Lustig said.

"We want to do it again. For all the boys, it was one of the biggest things they achieved in their career so far and we all want to repeat that.

"Of course, it's always good to go back and play in Sweden and I want to see Swedish teams do well in Europe because it's good for football in the country, but obviously this time I only want Celtic to go through in the tie."

Elfsborg, who are already halfway through their domestic league campaign, sit fifth in the table.

But the Swedish side are one of the more testing opponents Celtic could have drawn at this stage.

Lennon's team, who kick-off their domestic title defence on Saturday, disposed of fellow Swedes Helsingborgs at the same stage last year.

But Lustig knows it's important that the Hoops get off to a flying start at Parkhead and establish a significant advantage ahead of a potentially tricky return in Sweden.

"Elfsborg are a good team with really good footballers who want to play football on the ground," Lustig said.

"Their pressing is also good and they want to play good football. They also have a very good home record.

"It's really important to get a good first result. We want to get a good clean sheet at Parkhead as we know how important away goals are.

"You don't want to think too much about it but it's our home pitch and we want to go and attack as well."

Celtic will have to try and negotiate their way through to the next round without last season's top scorer Gary Hooper.

The English striker signed for Norwich City last week in a deal worth around £5 million to leave a significant void in the Celtic frontline.

The Hoops also lost influential midfielder Victor Wanyama to English Premier League side Southampton earlier in the close-season.

However, Irish striker Anthony Stokes, who scored in Saturday's friendly defeat against Borussia Monchengladbach, believes the Hoops still have more than enough quality to progress.

"We are all going to have to dig in and try to chip in. Over the last three or four years, we have done that," Stokes said.

"We've got enough players here and we just have to adapt to life without him now.

"We've lost a great player and he was a great lad around the club as well.

"But he's gone now. We have to move on and other people have to take on the burden of scoring goals."

Celtic could be up against a familiar face against Elfsborg after their manager Jorgen Lennartsson said he planned to play on-loan striker Mohamed Bangura in the match - against the wishes of his parent club.

There is no rule stating the Sierra Leone international can't feature against Celtic and there is no clause in his contract either.

However, he risks angering Celtic, the club he is scheduled to return to at the end of the year, if he does decide to play.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130729/football-celtic-can-repeat-euro-heroics-says-lustig