Belfast Telegraph

Champions League pain the spur for Saha

By Ben Rumsby

The Tottenham striker Louis Saha has revealed how the pain of missing the 2008 Champions League final is driving him on to ensure that he plays in next season's competition with Spurs.

Saha admitted that being ruled out of Manchester United's Moscow triumph through injury was the lowest point of his career, particularly as he has had to wait another four years for a chance to rejoin the elite of Europe.

The striker looked certain to do so when he joined a Tottenham side on transfer deadline day in January who were challenging for the Premier League title. Three months later, they are struggling to stay in the top four, and Saha is determined they should not falter in their last three games of the season. "The low [in my career] is that night in the Champions League where I missed the final," Saha said yesterday. "I'm a very ambitious person. I don't play to participate only; I want to win the biggest competitions."

Tottenham travel to Bolton tonight in the Premier League, then they have another away game at Aston Villa and a home match with Fulham. Saha, who is hoping to earn an extension to his six-month contract, said: "We need to win. We win three games and we are in it. It's not about trying to look at other teams and results. If you are focused on your ability to win those games, it should be fine."

Owen Coyle, the Bolton manager, feels his recent encounters with Tottenham in the North-west show why his team should go into tonight's game full of confidence that they can claim a vital victory.

Although Wanderers have been beaten five times at White Hart Lane in all competitions since Coyle was appointed manager in January 2010, at home they have held Spurs to a 1-1 draw in the FA Cup and pulled off an impressive 4-2 league win over them.

Those experiences have given Coyle plenty of encouragement that Bolton can more than match fourth-placed Spurs and, in doing so, climb out of the relegation zone.

"We are going into this believing that if we are at our best, we can take points from the game, and that is what we will look to do," Coyle said.

Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed following a cardiac arrest on the pitch at White Hart Lane in March, will be in the stand at the Reebok Stadium tonight, watching his first game since coming out of hospital. "We are absolutely delighted," added Coyle.

Qualification routes

Third Will automatically qualify for the Champions League group stage.

Fourth Will qualify for the Champions League play-off round, unless Chelsea win this year's competition and finish outside the top four – then Chelsea will qualify and club finishing fourth go into the Europa League.

Fifth Will enter Europa League

Sixth Will enter Europa League because all domestic cup winners and runners-up are already qualified.

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