AZ Alkmaar duo dismiss Celtic Park fear factor despite first-leg struggles

By David Walton

August 24, 2021

AZ Alkmaar duo Thijs Oosting and Ernest Poku have dismissed the idea that they were rocked by the Celtic Park atmopshere, and instead stated it didn’t affect their own individual performances negatively.

Celtic Park is known to provide one of if not the best atmosphere in European football. Many stars across world football have struggled to perform at Paradise, with the noise level often lifting the Hoops to impressive heights.

Alkmaar experienced that very phenomenon last week when they visited Parkhead for their Europa League playoff first-leg clash. Ange Postecoglou’s side takes a 2-0 lead to the Netherlands, with AZ struggling to assert themselves for long spells.

However, Oosting, who played the full 90 minutes, brushed off the idea that the Parkhead crowd provided him with any extra fear. Poku, meanwhile, stated that it took him minutes to overcome any tension despite only coming on for the final 10 minutes.

Speaking via the official AZ website, the players said the following:

A new dawn beckons for Celtic in Europe, as Joe Hart shows his class once again

OOSTING: “That was also a great experience (to play at Parkhead on a European night). I never suffer from nerves, but I was curious if the packed Celtic Park could take care of that. In the end I didn’t get any extra tension in the game and instead just more concentration.”

POKU: “I felt it a bit before the game, but it went away after a few minutes. Once I was on the field, I was focused on my tasks and I didn’t think about the many spectators.”

Confident AZ youngsters failed to shine in the Celtic Park cauldron

The AZ starlets are clearly trying to display a picture of confidence. But in truth, plenty of them looked rattled.

Constantly playing loose passes or being caught out positionally, Celtic had them making errors you wouldn’t expect from a top Eredivisie side. The crowd likely had a major influence on that.

This is all new for Oosting and Poku of course. They both featured against RKC Waalwijk and Celtic over the last week. Both men were making their first two senior appearances for the club too. Away to Celtic Park for your first-ever European game? You’ll do well to find someone who believes they weren’t flustered by the atmosphere.

Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images

Of course, this tie is anything but dead. Celtic will face the Dutch side again on Thursday night. This time at the AFAS Stadium in Alkmaar. Just like AZ experienced a cacophony of noise in Glasgow, the Celtic players will feel some heat in the Netherlands.

It’s another new test for Postecoglou’s Celtic. Facing a top European side away from home whilst defending a solid advantage won’t be easy. They’ll be at us from the first whistle, and the Hoops need to make sure they reciprocate the gesture to make us threatening.

It’s going to be an interesting night in Alkmaar for sure. The Celtic supporters are going to find out something new about Ange’s side, one way or another.

In other news, Steve Clarke sends out confusing message by snubbing Celtic’s Anthony Ralston for Nathan Patterson