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Celtic boss Neil Lennon hoping to reap rewards of Champions League experience

Neil Lennon stressed the importance of Champions League football to Celtic as he prepares for the first of four qualifiers in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Hoops take on Sarajevo in the first leg of their first qualifier at the Asim Ferhatovic Hase stadium on Tuesday night.

The Parkhead boss is desperate to make the group stages but he knows the route if difficult and lengthy if ultimately worthwhile.

The Northern Irishman has Champions League experience as a Celtic player and from his first time as manager and he is looking for more.

He said: “It is very important.

“I have had experiences of it at Celtic before and for your development as a player and a manager and for the club, it means a lot.

“It is one of our main priorities, there is no question of that.

“We have eight games to negotiate if we can and that is almost a quarter of a (league) season.

“We know it is a difficult road to travel but we know the rewards are great at the end of it.

“These are the most difficult games. Champions League, when you get to the group stages is fantastic.

“But the hard work is getting there.

“We could have had an easier draw.

“I think Sarajevo will be tough opponents over the two games but the guys know what the incentives are, they know what is at stake.”

Sarajevo boss Husref Musemic insists his side are underdogs against the Scottish champions.

He said: “We believe Celtic are favourites but we will give our best to achieve the best possible result.

“We are going to fight but we are realistic to say that Celtic is the favourites but it is football and that it is why it is interesting.”