Celtic's Efe Ambrose eyes Champions League quarter-final

 

Uefa Champions League, second qualifying round, second leg

  • Venue: Celtic Park, Glasgow
  • Date: Tuesday, 23 July
  • Kick-off: 19:45 BST

Coverage: BBC Radio Scotland 810 MW and on digital radio, BBC Radio Ulster medium wave

Efe Ambrose believes Celtic can reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League this season.

The Glasgow side made the last 16 of the tournament last term and are back in the qualifiers after having retained their Scottish title.

"We set the target last year and we want to do better this year," said Nigeria defender Ambrose.

"We can do even more than what we did last year if we put our mind to it and be determined to work harder."

I believe in what the manager has seen in the new signings and I believe they are good players

Efe Ambrose Celtic defender

Celtic recorded a famous victory over Barcelona in last season's group stage before losing to Juventus and went on to win a domestic league and Scottish Cup double.

Influential midfielder Victor Wanyama has been sold to Southampton, while top scorer Gary Hooper is also on the verge of a transfer to English football.

But, asked if Celtic retain a squad strong enough to at least match last season's European achievements, Ambrose said: "I don't think we have - I believe we have.

"We never rely on just two players. We rely on the whole team and the people on the bench."

Ambrose also has great belief in manager Neil Lennon's summer recruits - defenders Virgil van Dijk and Steven Mouyokolo and striker Amido Balde.

"I believe in what the manager has seen in them and I believe they are good players," he said.

"That is why they are here. We can see the qualities of the players."

Lennon, though, was quick to dampen down any expectations Ambrose may raise among the Celtic support.

Celtic are likely to face Swedish side Elfsborg in the third qualifying round. Lennon's side have a 3-0 first-leg lead over Cliftonville, while Elfsborg are 7-1 up on Latvian outfit Daugava Daugavpils.

"It's a big ask," said Lennon of the possibility of reaching the last eight. "The short-term is to make the group stages and then take it from there.

"We have difficult games to navigate as we go along.

"I like the optimism, I like the ambition, but the reality is we are a long way off that just yet."