London Hearts Supporters Club

Report Index--> 2006-07--> All for 20060809
<-Page <-Team Wed 09 Aug 2006 Hearts 1 AEK Athens 2 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Daily Record ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Valdas Ivanauskas <-auth Anthony Haggerty auth-> Nicolai Vollquartz
Aguiar Bruno [P Kapetanos 88] ;[N Liberopoulos 93]
21 of 066 Saulius Mikoliunas 61 E H


CHAMPIONS LEAGUE CRUNCH: HEARTS V AEK ATHENS Bruno vows to deliver knockout blow after his final-hurdle suffering of 2004
By Anthony Haggerty

BRUNO AGUIAR came so close to achieving his Champions League dream he could almost smell the money dripping from its jackpot.

Two years ago he was part of the Benfica side that stood on the brink of playing in the greatest club tournament of them all, only for the taste of success to be replaced by the stench of failure.

It took Aguiar and his team-mates days to recover from the trauma. But he insists that experience is providing him with the motivation to never again suffer pain.

Tonight the midfielder is once more on the verge of reaching the Champions League group stage as Hearts take on AEK Athens in the first leg of their third qualifying round clash, a tie that has a £6million bounty awaiting the winners.

But he knows failure to land that coveted prize will mean all the club's efforts will have been rendered meaningless - just as they were when the Portuguese runners up fell at the final hurdle in 2004.

Aguiar said: "It would be a dream of mine to play in the Champions League group stage with Hearts.

Every player wants to test themselves on that stage and I am no different.

"I played in the qualifiers with Benfica and we lost at the same stage to Anderlecht. It was soul-destroying.

"That season was stressful enough because we had to qualify for the Champions League by finishing second in the last game of the campaign.

"It was very bad for the teamand after the match we spent a whole week trying to recover from the loss. I don't want to go through it all again with Hearts.

"The games against Anderlecht were an amazing experience and although I am glad I had the chance to play in them, we lost so it was a horrible feeling.

"There was a different pressure from any championship game that I'd ever played in because of the financial implications involved.

"That's why this Hearts team will do everything we can to win the matches."

Already Valdas Ivanauskas' men have an advantage over their Greek rivals.

While Hearts have played two league games this season, AEK Athens have yet to experience a competitive match.

But although the real action has still to begin for Lorenzo Serra Ferrer's side, they have destroyed Aguiar's former team Benfica 3-1 in a friendly last week.

However, that game could help Hearts as much as the Greek champions as it has provided Aguiar with information on how to bring their opponents down.

He phoned his former Stadium of Light team-mate Nuno Assis for tips that have already been passed on to boss Ivanauskas.

Aguiar said: "AEK are a big, strong team, they play very good football and have some great players in their squad. They will be a difficult side to handle and this will not be an easy tie for Hearts."

Aguiar was outstanding in Hearts' 2-1 win over Celtic on Sunday at Tynecastle.

The 24-year-old insists that beating the champions is just the morale-booster his side need ahead of such a crucial clash. But, of course, the win was achieved inside their tight Gorgie home which is not something they will enjoy tonight.

Instead, the Jambos have been forced to play the tie at Murrayfield which although a stadium that can hold more fans inside it, is feared won't generate the same deafening noise levels. But Aguiar has called on the supporters to ensure the same backing is whipped up at the home of Scottish rugby as Hearts bid to take a lead to the Greek capital in two weeks' time.

He said: "The victory over Celtic was great for our-self esteem and all of the players feel that it gave us a massive boost.

"But it is very important the supporters come out and cheer on the team the way they did at Tynecastle on Sunday.

"It is crucial they play their part in getting us through."

Aguiar revealed Ivanauskas sat his squad down and stuck on the video of Hearts beating Aberdeen in the last match of last season, a victory that saw them clinch their place in Europe.

And the Portuguese star said: "It was good to see that video as it showed the players working desperately hard to achieve their objectives.

"You could see we were so happy at the end as we had all put in an incredible effort to reach the Champions League qualifiers."


SCOTTISH clubs have played six games at home against Greek sides and won only half:

1968, Cup-Winners' Cup, 2nd round

DUNFERMLINE 4, OLYMPIAKOS 0 (Edwards 2, Fraser, Mitchell)

1974, European Cup, 1st round


1994, European Cup, 1st qualifying round


1998, UEFA Cup, 2nd qualifying round

RANGERS 2, PAOK SALONIKA 0 (Kanchelskis, Wallace)

2001, UEFA Cup, 1st qualifying round

HIBS 3, AEK ATHENS 2 (aet' Luna 2, Zitelli)

2003, Champions League, Group Stage

RANGERS 1, Panathinaikos 3 (Mols)

Taken from the Daily Record

<-Page <-Team Wed 09 Aug 2006 Hearts 1 AEK Athens 2 Team-> Page->
| Home | Contact Us | Credits | © 2006 |