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Anthony Haggerty

AEK ATHENS coach Lorenzo Serra Ferrer last night claimed he's had a vision of his side seeing off Hearts and making the Champions League group stages.

The Spaniard insists the Jambos are favourites tonight as they've already played four competitive matches this season. But

Serra Ferrer is still confident ahead of the third qualifying round first leg.

He said: "No one can take away my vision of getting through this round.

"Hearts are a good team and we respect them but my players are eager to win.

"Hearts play a powerful and direct game but they are also capable of playing good football.

"They have already played four competitive matches and that is a big advantage for them over us.

"They beat Celtic in their last match - a team already in the Champions League group stages - and that win gives them great confidence.

"We might need a little bit of luck in the first leg but we won't complain."

The Greeks are aiming to complete a hat-trick against Scottish clubs having dumped Rangers and Hibs out of Europe already.

However, Serra Ferrer isn't interested in the past.

He said: "AEK do not pay much attention to the past statistics against Scottish sides as it is not a sound basis for these games.

"Each game is another page and chapter in history and we cannot live according to the past.

"We want to focus on the future and our own efforts to make history."

Skipper Trianos Dellas is just as confident as his boss. The Greek defender was a member of the Greek Euro 2004 winning squad and is a former team-mate of Hearts full-back Takis Fyssas.

He insists morale is high in the AEK camp even though they admit the Jambos hold a competitive advantage.

Dellas said: "Hearts have already played Champions League games this season and that is an advantage for them. But AEK have done a lot of preparation and we are confident.

"We have played friendlies at home and we are very focused and keen to win.

"Hearts are a typical Scottish team and they are a very pushy side.

"They press a lot and we need to be focused as it will be a very hard-fought game.

The first 10 minutes are crucial as that is when you get into the game and get a chance to suss out your opponents.

"The vision of the coach is possible as we are all very optimistic about doing something big here.

"I will not talk about the financial benefits to the club but there are other benefits to be had from reaching the group stages like the experience we will learn from these games.

"I played with Takis in the Greek national side and I wish my opponents every success.

"I am sure we will all be friends again after the game."

Taken from the Daily Record

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