By Gavin McCafferty, PA
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has challenged his players to show more resilience and staying power as they continue their Champions League campaign against Shakhtar Donetsk.
The Scottish champions created a number of good chances against holders Real Madrid last week but ended up on the end of a 3-0 defeat.
Carlo Ancelotti admitted his Real side “suffered” in the first half but Postecoglou seemed to be more frustrated than he was encouraged after the display.
The Hoops now take on a Ukrainian side in Warsaw who shocked RB Leipzig with a 4-1 win in Germany last week.
“I was a bit frustrated and disappointed because it’s not just about playing our football for a certain amount of time,” Postecoglou said. “I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t have done that for longer.
“In the context of who we were playing against, I understand that you are playing against one of the best teams in the world at the moment, maybe the best.
“And for us to be able to match them by playing our football was encouraging, but I didn’t see any reason why that couldn’t continue beyond the time it did.
“Looking back, the disappointing thing was, when we conceded, we conceded again quickly. There was no need to.”
Postecoglou, who will be without the injured Carl Starfelt and ill James McCarthy, added: “If we had hung in the game there’s always the chance to create again and just because you concede to them, an unbelievable team, we should have just got back to it and kept playing our football. In the end we lose 3-0.
“As encouraging as it was, for me, we could have been more competitive for longer in that game. But that’s the levels we are at.
“We want to compete at this level, that’s what you’ve got to do. At this level 60 minutes is never going to be enough. You have to make sure you see the game out and be resilient when you need to.”
Shakhtar boss Igor Jovicevic hinted his side would be happy to let Celtic have the ball and hit them on the counter-attack but Postecoglou did not want to get into any pre-match jostling for positions.
“It’s a Champions League game, we know it’s going to be tough,” he said. “Every opposition will give us different challenges and whatever it is out there we have got to be ready to face it.
“Whatever their coach says, whatever I say, we will see how the game unfolds. We will be ready for whatever happens.”
The game will give exiled Ukrainians the chance to see their team compete on the European stage amid the ever-changing situation with the war against Russia in their homeland.
There will be a ‘Stop the War’ display on big screens before the game but Postecoglou was keen to focus on the football.
“I understand the context of the question but ultimately it’s a Champions League football match and our responsibility and every club’s responsibility is to represent ourselves and the people we represent in the best manner and make sure we are prepared for what is hopefully going to be a really good football match,” he said.
It is unclear whether there will be any tribute to the Queen before the match. Tottenham players observed a minute’s silence before their Champions League contest with Sporting Lisbon in Portugal on Tuesday but the situation in Warsaw is not likely to become clearer until after UEFA and both clubs meet on Wednesday morning.
Postecoglou promised to abide by whatever is expected of him.
“Look, I have been very fortunate in that, in my role, I have travelled the world and one thing I have learned is to respect everyone’s culture,” the former Australia head coach said.
“I have learned to respect people’s culture and abide by whatever obligations I have personally and whatever the club has, and that’s what we will be doing (on Wednesday).”