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By ESPN Staff
Feb 27, 2007

Rangers chief Murray defends 'berated' UEFA Cup

Rangers defender Ian Murray insists the club are not competing for a worthless prize as they prepare to take on Osasuna in the UEFA Cup last 16.

Old Firm rivals Celtic have a Champions League glamour tie against AC Milan tomorrow, and have already faced European giants Benfica and Manchester United this season.

But Murray, 25, believes the UEFA Cup holds its own appeal, and claims the quality of teams lining up against Rangers this year's competition is particularly high.

'It has been berated a little bit, the competition, due to the Champions League successes,' said Murray.

'But if you look at the squads that are in the cup still .... you've got Bordeaux there, who I think finished third in their (Champions League) group; Ajax as well.

'Obviously there are some great teams still in it - you've still got Espanyol, Sevilla, Werder Bremen - so it's a good competition still. It's not taken lightly.'

Rangers reached this stage after overcoming Hapoel Tel Aviv 5-2 on aggregate in a tie which was high on drama and controversy, notably Allan McGregor's red card late on in the second leg at Ibrox which will force the goalkeeper to miss Thursday's match against Osasuna.

Into his place to face the Spaniards will come Stefan Klos, the 35-year-old German goalkeeper who is due to retire this summer.

'It was disappointing but we've got good back-up,' Murray told Rangers World.

'Stefan can come in if he has to. I think he's still an exceptional shot-stopper so there's no qualms about Stefan playing.

'He has won the Champions League so I'm not going to sit here and say he can't play football because of course he can.

'His pedigree speaks for himself. He's Stefan Klos, everybody knows how good he is, so there's no need for anybody to argue his case for him.'

Murray, like most at Ibrox, did not witness the incident in which McGregor clashed with Hapoel's Argentinian player Luciano de Bruno.

It came within seconds of Barry Ferguson firing the third goal in a 4-0 home win, and while most players and supporters were celebrating.

The goalkeeper has been banned for two UEFA matches, but Rangers have appealed in the hope it will be reduced to one game.

'Maybe he deserved it, maybe he didn't - I really don't know,' said Murray.