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Celtic-Elfsborg: Bangura set to start for Swedes

All smiles from Elfsborg striker Mo Bangura on his return to Glasgow. Picture: SNS

All smiles from Elfsborg striker Mo Bangura on his return to Glasgow. Picture: SNS

  • by ANDREW SMITH
 

ELFSBORG striker Mo Bangura will definitely start for the Swedish outfit in tonight’s Champions League tie against Celtic, according to a Swedish journalist who has seen the team sheet.

Michael Wagner told BBC Radio Scotland that the Sierra Leone striker - who has been at the centre of a tug-of -war over his participation in the Champions League third round qualifying tie at Celtic Park - will lead the Elfsborg attack, despite warnings from parent club Celtic that he should sit the match out.

Andy Walker: ‘Celtic won’t worry about Bangura’

The blather about Mo Bangura’s participation has been exaggerated way beyond his ability to influence the encounter would be the contention of many.

Andy Walker, former Celtic player and now Sky analyst, certainly appears to be in that camp. Bangura will be doing his bit to help the Swedish team, for whom he plays on loan, lance the Champions League hopes of his parent club Celtic, who paid AIK £2.2m for him two years ago.

Bangura was sent back to the country from whence he came because his 15 appearances for the Glasgow club yielded precisely no goals

He has fared better in scoring five times in 17 outings for the Swedish title holders but the to-ing and fro-ing over his possible inclusion in their line-up tonight has made it seem like he is the modern-day Henrik Larsson.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has railed against the unfair position Elfsborg are placing Bangura in, team-mate Joe Ledley stated yesterday that, were the 24-year-old to play his part in success over Celtic, he could not return to the club, while the Swedish camp have stated their outrage at Lennon’s attempts to have a player denied to them whose wages they are paying.

All the chat has made for a hot topic that Walker sees in far more tepid terms. He doesn’t seem to see Bangura ever coming back to Celtic, and for good reason.

Asked if he was a player Celtic should be worrying about, Walker said: “I don’t think so. It looks to me there are others ahead of him in the queue. Obviously, if you are Mo Bangura then you want to score, play well and attract a bit of interest.

“I think Celtic on the big occasion have shown they can handle it. I can understand Neil when he talks about Bangura and encouraging him not to play.

“By all means try to weaken your opponent. It looks to me that Bangura will play, but Celtic have enough experience in the locker to handle Elfsborg. They have experience of big games and what it takes to get through two-legged affairs.

“I would be very surprised if there were any slip-ups over two legs against Elfsborg.

“I’m certainly optimistic about Celtic, but it will be interesting to see how they get on without [Victor] Wanyama and [Gary] Hooper. That is a bit of a gamble to lose two of your better players. I know it is fabulous money, but I’m sure the supporters would want another signing or two. If I’m in [Celtic chief executive] Peter Lawwell’s shoes then I think he will be saying to Neil Lennon that he doesn’t need anything to retain the title and get a shot at the Champions League again next year. But, I think you have to try and give the supporters, who have stood by the club and given them tremendous backing last season when there was no Rangers, something. I think that is a difficult balancing act for Neil and Peter to satisfy the supporters.”

• Sky Sports will show 30 matches from the SPFL and all Scotland’s home internationals.

 

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