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Daniel Arzani backs Celtic to reach Champions League group stages

Daniel Arzani has backed Celtic to advance to the Champions League group stages and join the cream of Europe.

The Hoops will again have to do it the hard way after being handed a tough draw against Bosnian side Sarajevo in their opening qualifying tie.

Neil Lennon’s side will take on a side managed by former Hearts striker Husref Musemic as they seek to reach the group stages for a third time in four years.

On-loan Manchester City winger Arzani believes it is harsh that the Scottish champions still have to take such an arduous route to the group stages given their recent achievements.

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But he insists the Parkhead outfit have the quality to join the rest of the continent’s elite clubs in the money-spinning group phase.

Giving his reaction to the draw, the Australian – who hopes to make an impact this term after his first season in Scotland was wrecked by a serious knee injury – said: “It’s really difficult. The biggest mistake we could make is underestimating a team like this. You have to take it very seriously, it’s the Champions League after all.

“We just have to do our research and play as well as we can.

“I think it’s a little bit unfair (that we have to go through so many qualifiers) but I also think that the cream always rises to the top.

“We have the quality to go through all the way and I think we are going to.

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“It’s unfair but at the end of the day we just need to stick our heads down and get the job done.”

Lennon’s treble-treble winners are due to play at home in the first leg on July 9-10, although fixtures are subject to change.

The Hoops missed out on a place in last year’s group stage after being dumped out at the third qualifying round by Greek champions AEK Athens, although the team did progress to the last 32 of the Europa League under former boss Brendan Rodgers.

UEFA have handed Celtic the added safety net of a bye to the third qualifying round of the Europa League should they fail to get past Sarajevo.

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And defender Kieran Tierney has warned his side could be in for another tough mission this year.

He told CelticTV: “You don’t get easy games or bad teams nowadays. Every team is good and they know how to play football. They’re all well organised so there’s a clear standard to the football in that regard.

“They’re going to be hard to break down and they’ll come at us as well. We’re going into the unknown against a team we’ve never played and against players we’ve never faced. It’s a hard ask, but the expectation at Celtic is to win and go through and that’s what we’re planning to do.

“The confidence is always high at the start of the season. We’ve come back off the back of another treble. You can’t do any better than that. We’ve just won a trophy in our last game so going into our first competitive game we’re going to have confidence.”

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Meanwhile, Northern Ireland champions Linfield will face Rosenborg of Norway in their opening Champions League qualifier, Ireland’s Dundalk have been drawn to face Latvians Riga and The New Saints of Wales will face the winners of the preliminary round.

Kosovans Feronikeli take on Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar, while San Marino’s Tre Penne meet FC Santa Coloma on June 25, with the two victors progressing to a play-off three days later that will decide who enters the competition proper.