Astana CEO marking ref’s card, finish strong, Celtic


In a departure from the usual pre-match niceties, Astana chief executive, Kaisar Bekenov, did his best to send a message to Romania referee Istvan Kovacs, that he expects Celtic to try to provoke his players into getting a red card tonight.

For good measure, he informed Kazak media that all referees he spoke to about the “Griffiths incident” and everyone in Glasgow he spoke to since he arrived, told him Leigh should have been sent off. I suspect his sampling technique isn’t entirely scientific.

He’s right to be cautious about picking up red cards, they can determine the outcome of any game, but I’m sure this is an indicator of the manner in which Astana plan to play tonight. They will get ‘stuck in’, in particular to Patrick Roberts.

Roberts won’t be the first Celtic right winger to face some robust action in European football but this is all new to him, how he deals with it could be a major factor in the game.

Two other players worthy of note are Scott Brown and Leigh Griffiths. Astana will note how Scott was lured into a needless booking in the final seconds of last week’s first leg. If I was their coach, I’d send my players out to test Scott’s discipline.

Like all European strikers, Leigh will have to deal with being pulled inside the box. How he breaks free will result in scenes of drama, as Astana attempt to right the wrongs from the first leg all those Glaswegians spoke to Kaisar Bekenov about.

Celtic have the advantage of not having to chase the game, but we are likely to press forward from the off. How we defend will be crucial. Ronny Deila’s great undoing was the porous shape of his team when they lost possession in Europe. Tonight needs to be about defensive discipline above all else – and yes, that means patience.

It will be close to 3am Astana time at 90 minutes when the effects of jetlag will be greatest. The latter part of the game will be when Celtic have most advantage. Keep it tight, draw them out and finish strong, Celtic.

Well done to Dundalk in qualifying for the Champions League play-off round by eliminating BATE Borisov last night.  BATE are accomplished qualifiers for the Champions League, having progresses through the champions group more than any other club since qualification reorganisation.

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  1. Tony Donnelly 67,




    Yep, Club 1872, a scheme Bernie Madoff would have been proud of :).








    There won’t be much happening in Dundalk today, the pubs will be packed. A great night for Irish soccer, a play off tie for us in Dublin would be fantastic but Dundalk are a very good side. Hopefully we can move the ball quickly tonight and play at pace and none of this painfully slow stuff.



    Lets hope for 3-0 tonight:)

  2. Good result for youngsters last night. Don’t really know what to expect tonight, one thing is for sure, if we go out it will be a massive blow in so many ways.

  3. weebobbycollins on

    TONYDONNELLY67 on 3RD AUGUST 2016 10:48 AM…


    Tony, that was indeed a good read but at 10.48 my ‘breaky’ is history… :-)





    I’d never heard of them being founded in 1872 till Whyte came along.



    Had they been,they would have won a Euro trophy in their centenary,and the toxic nine in their 125.



    1873 is embedded into the brickwork and asbestos of the crumble dome. And my memory.



    No idea where nor why that idea took off.



    Nip up to Dundalk wi E. Show him a good time,tell Y I kinda begged you to do it(!)

  5. We don’t need reminding of the games we have lost due to important sendings-off – Scott Brown against Barca when the game was evenly poised and cup semi-finals are sore to recall.



    So a disciplined approach is key.



    We don’t really know how Astana will play – as Paul writes, they are effectively out of the tie, as it stands. Will they be offensive?, I think they could be – they need a goal….they could have had a couple more last week.



    Even if we score first, we will still be living on our nerves – do will we set up offensively and chase the goals we need?



    Fascinating stuff!



    It looks like any transfer targets are waiting to see where we end up in Europe – understandable, but nonetheless frustrating – if, God forbid, we fall tonight, or in the play-off round – will Brendan settle what he’s got in the squad, for domestic and/or Europa League?

  6. The Battered Bunnet on




    Respectfully, we’ve shipped 2 goals playing a more experienced defence to lesser teams.



    Malmo 12 months ago springs immediately to mind.

  7. Our Development Squad had an excellent victory last night. in the Irn Bru/Petrofac Training Cup or whatever its current name. I did not see the game but those who did seemed to have been very impressed.



    Wouldn’t it be funny if they can win this cup at the first time of asking when another large Glasgow club took 4 attempts to win it with their first team squad?

  8. The Tim reaper – it will be a huge boost if we progress.



    Glass half full? Glass half empty?



    Visualising s positive outcome is demonstrably more beneficial than fearing defeat.



    I hope and expect our club to promote and play on positive mental attitudes among playing staff.



    I dream of the day our support gets back to being a bit less fearful and a great deal more positive when adversity strikes. That will probably take a phenomenal run of results from the team. Which will be all the more remarkable for having overcome the fears of some of their fans.

  9. Celtic Champs Elect on

    Check out the next Celtic superstar at 14 playing in the you’d an trophy the young hoops just got to semi finals at under 14. The under 16s play at 2.30 if they win v accring stanley they to will be in the semi finals. Enjo young caddy real name karamoko dembele. The best U14 action from Day 2 – with @CelticFCProAcad’s #7 playing a starring role! >> http://youtu.be/CcNSslolcVQ

  10. It’d be easy to accuse some of the feint hearted posters today of being sevvies but I think too much thought has gone in to their posts.



    Tims? Possibly.



    Journos? I have my suspicions.



    L5 Astro turfers? Maybe.



    Part of Celtics comparative problems on the park? If it influences the way the crowd reacts in adversity, then yes.



    So, whatever, stay positive, support the team when they play.

  11. I’m already nervous and it’s lunchtime.






    On Toure, manager Brendan Rodgers said: “If I feel he can start, I’d have no problem. He’s super experienced, but we have to apply a little common sense”.



    Regardless of his experience we cannot start a player who has never played a minute with his teammates and hasn’t kicked a ball in pre-season.



    Even if one of the CB’s came off injured I’d be more minded to bring on Janko and shift Lustig in there.



    I can only see any changes in midfield. McGregor and Armstrong were fairly poor in Kazakhstan but only Brendan knows how fit the likes of Ajer and Johansen are.

  12. TBB



    I do not doubt our ability to ship two goals or more.



    I do doubt our ability to do that with Astana who are a defensively minded team like Qarabag and not habitual scorers away from home.



    Malmo had no such profile.




    P.S. the crosses that landed beyond our RB position for Jo-Inge to score would have been described as overhit if one of our wingers or Izzy had delivered it. Having grown up with the recurring nightmare of dead club centre forwards like Parlane, Johnstone, Drinkell, Hately and others peeling off our CBs to outjump a diminutive right back (Grant, Morris, McNamara etc;) I despaired at our failure to exploit that weak spot. We usually have people attacking the 6 yard box between the posts and no late arrivals at the back post. The goal scored by Aitchison for the u-20s last night came close to delivering what I hope to see.

  13. The Battered Bunnet on

    Swapping McGregor for Johansen might give us more in terms of running power in the middle, but it will do nothing for ball retention, and removes a scoring threat.

  14. Matts Niloc – looks like transfer targets are waiting to see what we do in Europe.






    Oh my sides.



    great noard non transfer activity excuses #6 – “the players just wont come to Celtic”




  15. The Battered Bunnet on




    Not I. Usual midweek struggle to get to the ground in time. You’ll catch me at the Gazebo most matches, and time and weather permitting tonight.

  16. cathedral view on

    Kolo Toure probably has a better understanding of how the manager wants the defence to play then anyone else in the squad. It’s his lack of recent game time and match sharpness I would be concerned about.




  17. NegAnon2 on 3rd August 2016 12:41 pm




    Matts Niloc – looks like transfer targets are waiting to see what we do in Europe.






    Definitely the case with a lot of players.



    Players are in no rush to sign with anybody. They would rather hold out and hope somebody will get desperate and increase a contract offer.



    A win tonight guarantees European football. It’s a big attraction for players as the Scottish league is perceived as a backwater.



    Why else would a foreign player want to come to Celtic?

  18. An article from te Dundalk Democrat newspaper (July 2012) shows how far they have come after being taken over by local businessmen Andrew Connolly and Paul Brown shortly after publication.



    Unlike a new club from Glasgow all the creditors of Dundalk FC were paid in full by the new owners in 2012 (192k) to prevent the club going out of existence.






    ‘Dundalk FC could “go out of existence” unless the severity of the Club’s financial position can be remedied immediately.



    According to a statement released on Friday by the Club’s board, finances have further nose-dived in recent weeks and fresh financial support is essential for the Club’s very survival.



    “The reality is that if more people do not contribute we will be undoubtedly be fighting a relegation battle, or worse case, go out of existence,” read the Board’s statement.



    “People must be made aware that should the club not be in a position to pay another week’s wages to the players, resulting in a total of two weeks wages in arrears, that these players have the right to seek employment with other clubs.



    “This undoubtedly may trigger our top players to leave voluntarily or other clubs knowing this situation will contact our top players with a view to taking them on with immediate effect. We have clear indications the latter will happen.”



    In order to try and combat this worst case scenario, the Dundalk FC Board has put out a request for local support in order to pay wages.



    “If any group or individual wants to sponsor any particular player’s salary to the end of the season, this option is available and we can sit down and agree with the group/individual how this can be done.”



    Only the DFC trust have expressed an interest in taking over the club since it was announced five weeks ago, with the board bitterly disappointed with this lack of interest.



    “Apart from the Trust, we are very disappointed that no one, either directly or indirectly, has contacted us in this regard particularly when we are in a position when we need them most.”



    Meanwhile assistant manager Darius Kierans has admitted that there has been interest from one unnamed club regarding top Dundalk striker Mark Griffin.



    However Kierans played down the significance of the approach.



    “Enquiries have been made, but nothing has been accepted and there is nothing concrete.



    “Mark has a lot of potential and he is one of our better players,” added Kierans.



    In recent weeks the Club has attempted to increase revenue and generate funds, but it has not been enough to shore up finances.



    “We have initiated a number of fundraising programmes to generate money,” continued the Club’s statement.



    “Our Honorary Vice President and Supporter Donations programmes and letters have been sent out to over 700 people.



    “To date 19 Supporters have donated €3,450 and the Honorary Vice President have taken in €2,500. The Board wish to acknowledge these receipts and are very appreciative to these people and other people who continue to contribute to the running of the club.”



    The statement finished with a plea to anybody who may be interested in contributing to contact the Club immediately.

  19. Hunderbirds are Gone on

    Hoping for a big performance from the team tonight. They are due one in an important game.


    Also hoping for a belter from the crowd. Near full house, standing section in full flow.



    A win, and a carnival crowd, viewed all over Europe can only sell the club to Brendan’s transfer targets.




  20. BMCUWPs,



    Clogher Jnr, is a Drogheda supporter we’d be chased out of Dundalk :))



    No love lost there.

  21. Feck all to do in the last 30 minutes so I have counted 1288 seats available for tonight’s game!

  22. I wouldn’t be so sure Paul,if the Astana CEO had phoned any Glasgow hacks , or Stuart Dougal, they would have agreed it was a red card for LG

  23. Timaloy – some other fantastic board non signing excuses:



    “we cant compete with the EPL (soon to be we cant compete with the Irish league”


    “Its too early for the manager to have made his mind up (ignoring its not the managers choice of course”


    “all transfer activity happens at the end of the window (even if your most imortant games are at the start”


    “the summer/winter (delete as appropriate) is the wrong time to get players”


    “no one wants to come to Celtic or scottish football”


    “our squad is too big – we need to get rid of the (constant) deadwood first”


    “we invest all the money we get in into errr, the team, no the club, no the board bonuses”


    “its all the agents fault”



    Blah blah blah.



    Its okay though – we didnt struggle last season so we should be fine with the same players.



    I wonder what we will do with the extra 10M a year for the return of racism and the extra SB money.



    The board are gonna need bigger bonuses!

  24. “Swapping McGregor for Johansen might give us more in terms of running power in the middle, but it will do nothing for ball retention, and removes a scoring threat.”






    I kinda agree. But in saying that we’ve played in some horribly impotent games last season without Joe hansen.



    Dundee, Hertz and killie. Yeah I know he’s not scoring many but he’s doing some decent dunky work that goes unnoticed.




  25. I’m looking forward to my first visit to CP this season. Not sure if I will be able to recognise all of the new players!



    I agree with Paul’s article but, for me, we must win the midfield battle. Dominate the midfield and we will win the game.



    I predict 2-0 to the Bhoys.




  26. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    TIMALOY29 on 3RD AUGUST 2016 12:47 PM



    Your point and that of Mats underlined by the departure of Virgil and Denayer after our departure from Europe.

  27. NEGANON2@12:41



    If that’s your opinion, OK. However I believe there are players willing to come to Scotland, if the offer is attractive – Europa League football may attract some, however CL could attract two/three of quality.



    I am sure Brendan would have received assurances on the budget from the board prior to coming in.



    Do you think to the contrary, or do you perhaps think he was lured here under false pretences? Very unlikely!!!

  28. Mats Nilloc – he wouldnt be the first (nor the last).



    I dont trust the board one iota. They are in it purely for their own gain.



    Anyway Brendan will get all those excuses trotted out……up to him to decide whether he buys them. Its his career.

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