Celtic vs Hapoel Beer Sheva - Rodgers confident Celtic can cope with pressure



Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2016 by PA

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers believes his men will stand firm under the pressure of Wednesday night's Champions League clash with Hapoel Be'er Sheva.

With a potential B£20million bounty at stake for reaching the group stages, the Hoops boss is well aware of the importance of the play-off double header with the Israeli champions.

It is three years since the Scottish champions took their place among the biggest names in Europe.

Under former boss Ronny Deila last term, their entry ticket was snatched away by a disastrous defeat in their final qualifier with Malmo, while the Norwegian's first attempt at qualification the year before also ended in frustration despite having two goes at it.

But Rodgers is confident the team he is now in charge of will not wilt in the same manner this time round.

He said: "The last couple of seasons have gone by and the players learn from those experiences.

"But it's also a new team with new ideas - a new identity - and we've shown over this early part of the season an ability to deal with pressure.

"There are various checkpoints in games where you are asked questions under pressure and so far I've been really pleased with how the players have coped.

"This will be the same. We're very calm but we understand that over the course of the two games there will be moments where we have to cope with it.

"But looking at how the boys have been working, I see no reason why we can't. We're playing the champions of another country but we're ready to accept the challenge."

Celtic will aim to take a commanding lead to Israel for next week's return leg but Rodgers insists there will still be work to do regardless of Wednesday's outcome.

"The ideal scenario is that we don't concede a goal and we win the game," he said. "But it can't be won tomorrow night and that was the same in the earlier qualifiers.

"We want to win the game but the team is performing very well, the mentality is good and we're in a good place at the moment."

Hapoel Be'er Sheva boss Barak Bakhar reckons Celtic have sat up and taken notice of his side after they knocked out Greek giants Olympiacos.

The 36-year-old does think he has the Scots' full attention after disposing of the Athens outfit with a 1-0 aggregate win in the previous round, but is keen to play down his side's chances.

He said: "We are not favourites. It would be a joke to say we are favourites.

"We know both of the teams will try to do their best but in front of this stadium and this team, it will be tough.

"A club like Celtic doesn't feel pressure. It's been in this stage many times before. We have pressure but it's positive pressure and we want to play a significant part in the match.

"Celtic know we beat Olympiacos so they are going to come ready. They really want to get into the Champions League so they will be concentrated and it will make it difficult for us.

"We had some good moments against Olympiacos in our away game and we want to attack here. We know the importance of an away goal."

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