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Efe Ambrose in clear to face Maribor

Updated: Tuesday, 19 Aug 2014 20:53 | Comments

Efe Ambrose (L) has served his suspension
Efe Ambrose (L) has served his suspension

Efe Ambrose will fly out to meet his Celtic team mates on Wednesday morning after originally being left in Glasgow with the Parkhead club believing he was banned for their Champions League play-off against Maribor.

The Nigeria defender was sent off for a 'last man' challenge in the 4-1 defeat by Legia Warsaw in Poland and sat out the second-leg of the third qualifier at Murrayfield.

Although the Scottish champions lost 6-1 on aggregate, their opponents were effectively drummed out by UEFA for fielding a suspended player.

There were some suggestions that since the Legia game was forfeited in favour of a 3-0 Hoops win, which took them through to the play-off with a 4-4 draw, then Celtic might have believed he had yet to serve his ban and would do so in the first-leg in Slovenia.

However, at the pre-match press conference in the Ljudski vrt stadium, Celtic manager Ronny Deila added to the confusion somewhat as he revealed Ambrose will now make the journey on the day of the game.

"He didn't travel today, he is coming tomorrow morning," said the Norwegian.

"In the beginning there were some communication problems, if he was ready or not, we didn't think he was ready because he got two matches but in the end it was one match.

"So he is coming now and I am very happy because we need defenders."

Deila, however, does not expect Ghana winger Mubarak Wakaso to be signed in time for the Maribor game.

The Ruban Kazan player will move to Parkhead subject to a medical and the Scottish champions were hoping the loan deal would be completed ahead of the 11pm deadline on Tuesday night.

However, the former Stromsgodset boss said: "It is going on but it doesn't seem like there is going to be anything today. It is hard to get the paperwork together.

"I am not 100 per cent sure but I think it is going to be hard to have him ready for the game against Maribor."

Despite the chastening experience against Legia, Deila insists he is confident of beating Maribor over two legs and takes heart from his side's 6-1 thrashing of Dundee United at Parkhead on Saturday which was the champions' best performance of the season.

"We have been together longer and been in two difficult matches against Legia and I think we have learned," he said.

"We were disappointed against Legia but now we get another chance and we have to show that we have learned from those games.

"It was a tough experience but an important experience I hope and we will take those things into the game tomorrow.

"The players look more fit, quicker, sharper in the passing and pressing so I am sure we will get a better performance tomorrow than we had in Legia.

"We know what we are capable of when we are at our best and you saw that at the weekend."

However, while Deila is looking to take advantage of the second bite at the European cherry, he is wary of accepting the mantle of favourites in this tie.

He said: "We are used to being favourites and everyone we meet say we are the favourites but we are after a good performance and we will see tomorrow who is the best team.

"And we have to do it over two legs as well. It is not only 90 minutes, it is 180.

"I think it will be close and I hope we show ourselves to be the best side."

Returning at the end to the theme of suspension, Deila declared the Scottish FA's offer of a two-game domestic ban to wide-man Derk Boerrigter - which the Dutchman accepted - for diving to win a penalty in the 3-0 win over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park last week was "little bit hard."

"I think the penalty was a little bit hard but if the association thinks that how they want to do it, I respect that and we take the penalty," he said.

"Now they have set the standard and I have no problem with that, but I think that it was quite hard.

"But I don't punish people - I think he got a bigger punishment when I was yelling at him."

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