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Efe Ambrose is in the clear as Celtic get another shot at Europe

By Ronnie Esplin

Efe Ambrose will fly out to meet his Celtic team-mates today after the Parkhead club discovered he was not banned for the first leg of their Champions League play-off against Maribor in Slovenia.

The Nigeria defender was sent off in the 4-1 defeat by Legia Warsaw in Poland and sat out the second leg of the third qualifying round tie at Murrayfield.

But although the Scottish champions lost 6-1 on aggregate, the result was overturned in Celtic's favour by Uefa after their opponents were effectively drummed out for fielding a suspended player.

Ambrose did not travel with the Hoops party which left Glasgow airport yesterday morning, but manager Ronny Deila revealed at the pre-match press conference he will make the journey today.

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

"In the beginning there were some communication problems, whether 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 Rubin 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 last 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."

Celtic's place in the play-offs was only confirmed late on Monday night after Legia Warsaw failed in their final bid to be reinstated in the competition.

Eleventh-hour drama saw the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) reject the Polish champions' appeal to be provisionally reinstated in Europe's premier competition.

The Poles are now looking for compensation and what they describe as "justice for football" to make sure that no other teams face similar sanctions for mistakenly fielding a suspended player.

In Legia's case, Bartosz Bereszynski came on in the 86th minute of their 2-0 second-leg win at Murrayfield, turning a 6-1 aggregate victory into an away-goals defeat after Uefa acted on its rules that clubs forfeit games for fielding ineligible players.

Legia were already resigned to playing in the Europa League before the decision was announced and now travel to Kazakhstan to face Aktobe in a bid to qualify for the group stages of that competition.

Legia were previously angered by Uefa's refusal to sanction a fast-track CAS hearing after the European governing body's appeals body upheld its disciplinary panel's ruling that Celtic be awarded a 3-0 second-leg win over the Polish side.

And the Lausanne court denied their "urgent request for provisional measures" to be reinstated into the Champions League.

CAS revealed that the president of its appeals arbitration division had considered written submissions after both Uefa and Celtic were invited to give their opinions on Legia's appeal.

The punishment stemmed from Legia's failure to register Bereszynski in their squad list for the second qualifying round against St Patrick's.

Belfast Telegraph


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