Hibs keeper Ofir Marciano desperate to face Celtic midfielder Nir Bitton on the pitch after cheering pal from stands

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OFIR Marciano and Nir Bitton have become cheerleaders for each other after finding themselves together again in Scotland this season.

But Marciano has revealed his determination to help Hibs to promotion back to the Premiership so the friends can in future face each other as rivals on the pitch.

Marciano joined Hibs on a season-long loan at the start of the season and consulted fellow Israeli Bitton before making the switch to the Championship favourites.

(Pic: Twitter @hibsofficial)
(Pic: Twitter @hibsofficial)

Bitton has since lent his support to his compatriot from the Easter Road stands, with the Celtic midfielder taking in the recent 1-1 draw with Falkirk and 4-0 victory over Queen of the South.

Marciano returned the favour by attending the Hoops’ 2-0 defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League last week to cheer on his pal and former Ashdod team-mate.

“I support him, and he supports me,” explained Marciano. “We are good friends like that, we have a good connection.

“It was good to see the best players in the world last Wednesday night but Nir actually likes coming here (to Hibs).

“He asked me if he could come to the games because he enjoys the atmosphere of the stadium and around the club. It’s nice.”

Although Bitton had to wait until midway through the second-half to come on as a substitute against the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, Marciano enjoyed his taste of Parkhead on a big European night.

And, as they prepare for a huge promotion encounter with Dundee United on Friday, the 27-year-old believes it is somewhere Hibs should be travelling to on a regular basis.

NATURAL

The Israel internationalist added: “This is our natural place, to be in that league and to play against these teams, like Celtic, Rangers and Hearts.

“I didn’t need to see that [Barcelona] match to know that, but sure, it gives me something to aim for.”

Hibs currently enjoy a three-point lead over United and a superior goal difference ahead of this week’s trip to Tannadice and are aware a fifth win in six games could prove significant.

However, Marciano has stressed that there is still likely to be many twists and turns left in the Championship campaign.

“It’s very important but this is a long season and we have just got started,” he said. “So, for sure, it is important to win but we don’t just need to beat Dundee United, we have to beat every team in this league.

“We respect every rival we face, especially Dundee United. So we will prepare like we should, and hopefully it is going to be okay.

“The league is so long, we have a lot of time, and things can change in a few weeks, just like that.

“So we need to be focused and this is what has helped us improve over this past month.”

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