Rangers FC manager Walter Smith hopes the confidence garnered from last weekend's defeat of Chelsea FC will provide the inspiration to see the Glasgow club through against FK Zeta in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League second round qualifying tie at Ibrox tonight.
The Scottish Premier League runners-up enjoyed a 2-0 win against their English counterparts on Saturday and while Smith is reluctant to read too much into pre-season results, the victory has given his players a timely boost ahead of their first competitive fixture of the new campaign. "I don't think pre-season results are a great indicator about how you are going to do, but it's not often you get to play a team of Chelsea's calibre and beat them," said Smith, who has doubts over midfielders Kevin Thomson and Alan Gow. "The pressure is on us to win at home and not lose a goal. Hopefully, we will play well enough to get the right result and go to Montenegro with confidence."
Zeta, who are the first club to represent Montenegro in the UEFA Champions League after winning their inaugural domestic championship last season, overcame Lithuanian side FBK Kaunas 5-4 on aggregate in the previous round and while Rangers are favourites to progress, Smith warns there is no room for complacency. "Against Kaunas, Zeta were very tidy," he added. "They were 3-0 down after 17 minutes in the second game and came back to 3-2 which put them through, so that shows they have a strong mentality. Like every other team that reaches this stage they will be of a good standard."
DaMarcus Beasley knows all about the pressures of qualifying for the group stage from his time at PSV Eindhoven. The American international, who is one of nine new signings at Rangers and led his country to CONCACAF Gold Cup success during the summer, made his competition debut in 2004/05 in the third qualifying round against FK Crvena Zvezda, scoring to help PSV to a 7-3 aggregate win that launched Guus Hiddink's side on a roller-coaster ride which culminated in a narrow semi-final loss to AC Milan. Beasley is hoping a win against Zeta will inspire Rangers to similar success, telling uefa.com: "Belgrade is a tough place to go to but PSV got through and we are in a similar position now. We have a lot of quality as we showed against Chelsea and if we get through the sky's the limit."
Meanwhile, Zeta captain Janko Tumbašević is hoping his side can find the courage to stifle Rangers. "We are aware what kind of atmosphere is waiting for us at Ibrox, but I really hope we won't be scared there," said the 22-year-old midfielder. "If we stay calm, I hope we can achieve a good result which will leave us with hope ahead of the second leg."
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