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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Marseille v Besiktas: Preview

Marseille coach Albert Emon knows his job is on the line as he prepares his troops for Tuesday's opening Champions League Group A encounter with Besiktas.

OM have made a sluggish start to the new Ligue 1 campaign, with just one win in eight outings leaving them hovering dangerously close to the relegation zone having been touted as title candidates in pre-season.

A win against Besiktas would go a long way towards easing the early-season jitters at the Cote d'Azur club, and give Emon some breathing space after club president Pape Diouf hinted that he may ring the changes unless there is an upturn in form.

Diouf told 'Should the moment come that I feel the only way out is to effect changes among the staff, I will do so without seeking anyone's permission.'

However, the OM supremo added: 'Albert Emon will be at the helm against Besiktas.'

A home defeat to Toulouse at the weekend has dampened spirits yet further in the Marseille camp, but Emon is adamant he is going nowhere.

'I'm not throwing in the towel,' he said. 'I'm moving forward. I'm not sure where to, but I'm going to keep moving forward.'

Victory against last season's Turkish Super Lig runners-up would be a huge fillip for the embattled coach, who is determined to enjoy the challenge of Champions League football.

'The Champions League is a party,' Emon told 'The club wanted so much to get there and now here it is. We're preparing well, we fought for 12 hard months last year to get here.

'This Besiktas game could be the moment when we lift our heads again. We'll see how the competition gets under way. It could be a good back door for us in terms of the problems we've been experiencing.

'We need to free ourselves up, so we're throwing ourselves into this competition that can do us a lot of good.'

However, the former France international believes that Besiktas will be no pushovers, and has called on his team to perform to their best.

'They are a good side with some Brazilians and some very technically talented players,' Emon continued.

'They play hard and never give up. They'll come here looking to really play. We need to be completely focused and really rise to the challenge.'

The OM coach will be boosted by the return to the line up of captain Lorik Cana, who missed the weekend defeat to Toulouse through suspension.

Besiktas coach Ertugrul Saglam has named a 21-man travelling party for the first leg at the Stade Velodrome, which includes experienced goalkeeper Rustu Recber, a summer signing from city rivals Fenerbahce.

The Istanbul outfit, who are competing in the Champions League for the first time in four seasons, will be without the suspended Ali Tandogan and the injured Gokhan Zan.

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