Samaras slams unprofessional Hoops

  • Last Updated: August 20 2012, 18:26 BST

Georgios Samaras admits Celtic were "unprofessional" in their 1-1 draw against Clydesdale Bank Premier League new boys Ross County on Saturday but blamed it on the importance of Tuesday night's Champions League play-off match against Helsingborg in Sweden.

Georgios Samaras: Angered after Ross County draw

The Scottish champions were not at their best against the Staggies in Dingwall and needed a goal from Kris Commons with seconds of three added minutes remaining to secure a point.

Ahead of the first game against the Swedish champions, Samaras spoke of the importance of reaching the group stages of the competition and how he thought it affected the Hoops players in the Highlands.

The Greece striker said: "You know sometimes, I know it is a bit unprofessional, but sometimes, when your target is European football then maybe your mind is on the European games because they are more important.

"Because, if you drop points in the SPL you have all season to correct things, but now, in one week, we have to play two games and we need to be focused 100% there.

"I know it is not right but I think in the game we played on Saturday, our mind was a little bit for the game tomorrow."

After the game in Dingwall Neil Lennon accused some of his players of "going through the motions" but the Hoops manager stopped short of concurring with Samaras' assessment.

He said: "I don't know about that. I think unprofessional is sort of the wrong word, maybe some of them had one eye on Tuesday night.

"They know the significance of the game and how big it is for themselves and everyone associated with the club."

Samaras believes Celtic now have the "maturity" to reach the group stages of European football's elite club competition.

The former Manchester City player said: "It is an important game for us, we want to play at the top level and the Champions League is the highest level in European football.

"Europa League is European football but we did that last year and I think we were a bit unlucky not to go through.

"But I think our team is more mature now and ready to go to the highest level.

"We want to raise the bar a bit higher and the aim is to be in the group stages of the Champions League."