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Scott Brown has urged his Celtic team-mates to take it one game at a time as they embark on their UEFA Champions League qualifying campaign.
Celtic face FC Sarajevo in the first leg of their first qualifying round on Tuesday and the Hoops captain is hoping for a positive start to the campaign as they look to take a strong result back to Celtic Park later this month.
“We’ve had a good pre-season, we’re in a good place and we’re looking forward to the game. We need to take it one game at a time, aim to get through this qualifier and hopefully head back to Celtic Park with a good result," Brown told reporters in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“It’s always hard, especially when you only get a few weeks, but the lads have come back in good condition, we’re looking forward to the game, and we want to be in the Champions League.
“For us, qualification is getting harder and harder each year, the season is getting longer, but we want to be in the Champions League. We can’t look too far ahead, though, and for us it’s about concentration. We need to make sure we’re organised. It’ll be a tough game, but we’ve prepared well and we are going in very well-organised.”
Celtic missed out on the group stages last season - they were knocked out at the third qualifying round by AEK Athens - and Brown believes it is important for Neil Lennon's side to compete with the best teams in Europe.
“When I first signed here, we used to go straight into the group stages. It shows you how things have changed in the 13 season that I’ve been here," he added.
"But the Champions League is huge for me. You want to play against teams and players in the worlds. It’s one of the reasons I signed for Celtic. For the club, it’s huge too, and we need to make sure we get there in the first place.
“A lot of players come to Celtic to see what it’s like at Celtic Park on Champions League nights. The fans thrive off the atmosphere, the players do as well, and we want to experience that again this season. You look back a few years to games like the Manchester City match, and we’d love to have that again.”
Celtic play FC Sarajevo in the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round first leg on Tuesday, 9 July live on eir sport 2 [kick-off 6.45pm]. Subscribe here
Getty Images/Ian MacNicol