Celtic ace Stefan targets the big Stage

STEFAN JOHANSEN has helped Celtic make it three-in-a-row … but already the midfielder has set his sights on achieving another magnificent hat-trick.

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Stefan Johansen is desperate to help Celtic reach the group stage of the Champions League for the third successive season
Stefan Johansen is desperate to help Celtic reach the group stage of the Champions League for the third successive season

The January signing is gunning for the Hoops' third consecutive appearance in the group stage of the Champions League.

And, though there are five games of this season to complete, Johansen has begun making preparations to ensure he is in the best possible condition to play his part in safely negotiating the qualifiers and play-offs.

One of those qualifiers could even be against his former club, Stromsgodset, who he helped clinch the Norwegian title in November, and who are one of the unseeded clubs in the draw.

Johansen is already excited by the prospect of making his first appearance in the competition - and has seen enough of his new team-mates to believe the best has yet to come from this side. Johansen is keeping his fingers tightly crossed Neil Lennon - a target for Norwich - will still be in charge of the Hoops when these games come around as he believes he is learning so much from the man who signed him in the last transfer window.

The Norwegian international said: "I have been told we can qualify for the third time in a row for the group stage. The manager has more to achieve here, and every player at the club wants him to be here. He knows what the club is about and he knows how to win. He creates winners, and losing is never an option for him."

Johansen was one of three players brought in by Lennon during the last window. And the manager will use the break this weekend to run the rule over more possible signings from England.

But, even if there are no more additions in the summer, Johansen is confident the current squad is good enough to qualify.

While Beram Kayal's views on the lack of technical ability which exists in the Scottish game have irked some of those who manage and play here, Johansen reckons the standard does not deserve to be criticised.

The new Bhoy said: "Some of the guys are very technical, though they are probably not playing that way. They are playing a more physical game. But, some teams like Dundee United, are a good team and have some technical players.

"I don't really look at what other teams do, I just try to look at ourselves. We try to be a passing team.

"If you are a technical player, you are not getting into so many tough challenges. You have more time on the ball. But, you have got to adapt to the pace of the game here also, and I am trying to do all of these things."g


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