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Kosanović ready for Rangers return

FK Crvena Zvezda coach Milorad Kosanović wants to see "bravery, strength, knowledge and sharpness" as his charges seek to overcome Rangers FC in Belgrade.

Rangers' Lee McCulloch takes on Crvena Zvezda's Ognjen Koroman
Rangers' Lee McCulloch takes on Crvena Zvezda's Ognjen Koroman ©Getty Images

FK Crvena Zvezda coach Milorad Kosanović will tell his players to show "bravery, strength, knowledge and sharpness" as they look to oust Rangers FC in Belgrade.

Narrow margin
Trailing to a last-minute Nacho Novo goal from the first leg of the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie, the Serbian champions feel they have a great chance of reaching the group stage for the first time since the competition was renamed in 1992/93, and Kosanović will be exhorting his men to give their all. "We need victory and you have to deserve it," said the coach, who replaced Boško Djurovski on the eve of the new campaign. "Whether the game lasts 90, 120 or longer; nobody knows. I will be telling my players that they must show bravery, strength, knowledge, sharpness – everything. Tuesday could be a great day for us and we must take that chance."

Fit squad
With Dušan Basta returning from suspension and Igor Burzanović recovered from a knee injury, Kosanović has a full squad to choose from and will also rely on a huge home crowd in Belgrade,after over 35,000 tickets for the Rangers game were snapped up within 24 hours of going on sale. "Nobody in Europe has supporters like us," said Kosanović. "They will be our 12th player."

Character test
Having spent €15m on new players during the summer, manager Walter Smith hopes Rangers will pass a test of character in Belgrade and feels the hot-house atmosphere may help his men to focus. "There's nothing worse than being involved in games where there is a lack of atmosphere and nothing is happening in the stadium," he said. "You look forward to taking part in these games and if it is a bit hostile, you've just got to do your best and enjoy it.

Added edge
"It will be our toughest game of the season so far. There is a [€15m] prize at stake and we have to show we can handle that." Smith will wait until the last minute to make a decision on Daniel Cousin after the Gabon striker sustained a calf knock in Saturday's 2-1 win over Kilmarnock FC, but Lee McCulloch has recovered from a virus.

Smith plan
The manager is hoping his side will catch Crvena Zvezda on the break in Belgrade, saying: "Once the game opens up a bit we're hoping we can take advantage. That's the difference the goal [from the home leg] makes. It depends on us keeping it tight for the first hour of the match, then with half an hour to go the opposition are forced to push forward a bit more and we could take advantage at that stage."