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Focus is the same no matter the continent

THE scenery has changed around him but Efe Ambrose continues to look at the bigger picture.

Only two weeks have passed since the Nigerian was representing his country in the World Cup finals, competing against France in a last-16 tie which the Africans lost by two goals. His latest venture was far from a booby prize, though.

It was still a long way from Brazil, of course, as Ambrose returned to the Celtic defence to begin the arduous task of reaching the group stages of the Champions League. His holiday - a mere fortnight - afforded him just enough time to pause for breath before taking on KR Reykjavik in Iceland on Tuesday night. The match felt low-key, was watched by around 1500 supporters and ended in a 1-0 win. It was quite a change from that night in Brasilia.

However, Ambrose, who spoke yesterday at the Celtic's Lennoxtown training complex, would acknowledge the importance of focusing on the task in hand as he compared the difference in standard between his last two matches.

"It was difficult but as the same time you have to respect everyone you play against in football these days," said the defender, whose side will play the second leg next Tuesday at Murrayfield. "You have to give your opponent due respect because [there are] no minor teams or minor countries in football these days.

"It would have been a story if we had got beaten. So it doesn't matter who we play against, the most important thing is to go out and represent Celtic and play as a Celtic player and to win every game we play. So that is the mentality."

Ambrose was just as clear while discussing how such a short break from the World Cup might come to affect his performances when the new domestic campaign begins in earnest. "It is normal because it is not the first time," he added. "I am a professional and I am used to it. It has been part of me."

The Nigerian has been obliged to adjust his routine a little, though. His return to training with Celtic led also to a first introduction to his new manager, Ronny Deila, who replaced Neil Lennon at the Glasgow club during the close season.

"I have only been back here for a couple of days but the atmosphere is nice," said Ambrose. "Everyone is settling in well but we need time to adjust to how he wants us to play. It will be a gradual process. We will co-operate, to give him all we can, so we can move faster because the Champions League is ready and the league is starting soon."

Deila may not be the only new face that Ambrose comes across this season, since Celtic have reportedly stepped up their pursuit of Modou Barrow. The striker, who is contracted to Osterunds currently, has been the subject of an unsuccessful £600,000 bid from Bolton Wanderers already and is watched by Everton, Queens Park Rangers and Hull City.

Osterunds value the 21-year-old at £1.5m and Celtic are understood to have received a report on the striker from Billy Reid. The former Hamilton Academical manager is now serving as assistant coach at the Swedish club.

"Modou is sensationally quick and technically good," Reid added last night. "If anyone was going to be worth big money in the future, it is this guy. He's got great potential."

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