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Page last updated at 19:40 GMT, Wednesday, 18 August 2010 20:40 UK

Dundee Utd ready for AEK Athens challenge

DUNDEE UNITED V AEK ATHENS - Europa League play-off, first leg
Venue: Tannadice Date: Thursday, 19 August Kick-off: 2000 BST Coverage: Commentary via BBC Sport website, live text also available and updates on BBC Radio Scotland

Houston wary of AEK forwards

Peter Houston has backed Dundee United to cope with the Europa League visit of AEK Athens - because his players proved their nerve at Hampden in May.

"It's been the same as any preparation for a massive game and the Scottish Cup was a massive game for us to try and win," said the Tannadice manager.

"This is my first European match as a manager - the whole road leading into it is very different from the SPL.

"You know the SPL players inside out, whereas here they are not so familiar."

Houston, who has had a taste of Europe while coaching at Hearts, has been unable to see his opponents in the flesh because the Greek season is yet to start.

However, he has enlisted help from Rangers and Blackburn, who were up against AEK in recent friendlies in Australia.

"This is a whole new challenge and as our players won't know the AEK Athens boys we have had to build up a dossier," revealed Houston.

"Stevie Kean at Blackburn has been a great help and so has Kenny McDowall at Rangers.


"They gave us DVDs of the pre-season tournament in Australia and it proved to me that AEK Athens are a right good side because they won the tournament convincingly.

"They scored five against Sydney, two against Blackburn and beat Rangers.

"They have quality in the forward areas, they are solid at the back and they have two excellent sitting midfielders in Pantelis Kafes and Papa Bouba Diop, if he plays.

"Savvas Gentsoglou is a very good player too so we are under no illusions about the task we face.

"But if we were to win this over the two legs it would be a huge bonus and it would prove we don't have a bad squad of players ourselves.

"I would have liked to have watched them personally but I also thought that the games in Australia were high tempo.

"I think they will play a similar game here, with a back four, two sitting then three and one.

Daly urges patience from fans

"The four attackers will change positions and they have some top players, like the young Brazilian Leonardo and the captain Nikos Liberopoulos.

"He's experienced and plays off either the Australian Nathan Burns or Rafik Djebbour.

"I've been working on giving our lads information on their system and how we are going to counter it."

Celtic plundered the cash-strapped Greek club for defender Daniel Majstorovic this week and Houston does not see facing AEK as a much bigger task than facing the Old Firm.

"It's difficult to say how they'd do here," he added.

"Celtic have a new team and they beat Rangers but Rangers created a lot of chances against them in Sydney and that's given me a bit of heart.

"They keep the ball well, as do most European teams, but Rangers kept the ball well against them and Steven Whittaker put in some good crosses and Kenny Miller almost got on the end of a few things.

"It gives you a bit of hope. As far as where they would finish in the league they would probably be in the top two or three."

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see also
Dundee Utd 0-1 AEK Athens
19 Aug 10 |  Europe
Greek history against Dundee Utd
17 Aug 10 |  Dundee Utd
Dundee Utd keen to sell strikers
18 Aug 10 |  Dundee Utd

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