ANGE Postecoglou has challenged punch-drunk Celtic to show they are a “good boxer” by getting back on their feet after the heavy defeat to Bodo/Glimt and delivering a knockout blow to the Norwegian champions in the second leg of the Conference League play-off.
Callum McGregor and his team mates were left reeling when they crashed to a 3-1 loss to Kjetil Knudsen’s team at Parkhead on Thursday night and now face missing out on the last 16 of the new competition.
They must win by three goals on the artificial pitch at the Aspmyen Stadium – the venue where the back-to-back Eliteserien winners thrashed Serie A rivals Roma 6-1 in the group stages back in October – next week in order to progress.
However, Postecoglou has refused to write off Celtic’s chances and has called on his charges to respond to the humiliating reverse in their cinch Premiership match against Dundee and maintain their lead over Rangers at the top of the table.
“I have been around for quite a long time,” he said. “Nothing is easy, nothing runs to script, there are always bumps in the road.
“Credit to them, they were really clinical and took their chances. There weren’t many, but they took them and we didn’t.
“For us, it’s not just about what we do when things are going well. It’s about what we do in adversity. This is an opportunity for us to show that we can bounce back from it.
“Every challenge is a new one. This is another one for us. It is the first game we have lost in quite a while and how we react to it is obviously going to be important.
“So far this season we’ve reacted to challenges really well, but it’s another one and on Sunday we have to show the right kind of reaction.”
Postecoglou added: “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. Ultimately, this is part of football. You have got to take the knocks.
“It is not just about feeling good and going around beating teams. You have got to take a punch like you’re a good boxer and show, okay, it happens to the best.
“We have just got to dust ourselves off, not feel sorry for ourselves. The next challenge is Sunday, that is our focus. We want to continue our good form in the league and Sunday is an opportunity to do that.
“That’s the script football writes for you. The challenge for us now is to go there and challenge what may be the outcome of the story that everyone thinks it will be.
“It’s half-time. There are no away goals so we will look to bring a good performance, score our goals. I think people have seen enough of this team to know we are going to go over there and lie down. We will go there and have a go.”