Manager Walter Smith has warned his players to ignore any talk of crisis at FK Crvena Zvezda as Rangers FC prepare to play host to the Serbian champions tonight.
The Belgrade side endured a trying weekend with former coach Milorad Kosanović taking over from Boško Djurovski on the eve of the disappointing 0-0 home draw against FK Čukarički that marked the start of their domestic campaign. While admitting to a degree of uncertainty as to how Kosanović will approach the game, Smith wants his team to concentrate on reaching the group stage.
"We have good knowledge of their players on an individual basis, but in terms of formation and how they will play, it's difficult for us to assess them at the moment," said Smith, who may be without injured defender Saša Papac. "We just have to make sure we approach the game in the right manner and if we can progress through these two games, it will be terrific for everyone at Rangers."
The two sides met in the 1990/91 European Champion Clubs' Cup second round with Crvena Zvezda triumphing 4-1 on aggregate en route to winning the competition. However, with right-back Dušan Basta suspended after picking up two yellow cards in the second qualifying round victory over FC Levadia Tallinn, and with midfielders Igor Burzanović and Joao Lukas expected to be sidelined by injury, the former Yugoslavian giants will not be confident of a repeat performance.
'Work not words'
Kosanović understood the magnitude of the task facing his team, saying: "Rangers are one of the famous European names – a big club with fantastic tradition and they have started their domestic season well [with two successive wins]. A hard job lies ahead and we must grow up fast. We cannot talk about the outcome – both teams want the same thing and the stakes are high. It's time for work, not for words."
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