I hear the modest noises which Shakhter manager Viktor Kumykov made after their win over Celtic last week have been replaced by more robust predictions. Kumykov told the most senior local apparatchik, Baurzhan Abdishev, that Shakhter will score a few goals in Glasgow and progress into the Champions League group stage.
I always like to hear confidence like this from the opposition camp. Let Celtic do their talking on the park.
Shakhter are further away from home than any team participating in Champions League history, apart from Celtic who faced the opposite journey last week. The second half on Wednesday kicks off at 01:45 Kazak time; no matter what the score at the halfway point, the latter part of the game will be when the visitors are at their most vulnerable.
Meanwhile Kazak news report that Shakhter have shipped shirts to some Glasgow-based football fans, who will be attending Celtic Park on Wednesday as newly-recruited Shakhter fans.
Did we mention practicing penalties? The entire squad should spend time today and tomorrow doing so, but Kris Commons especially. He is the one penalty taker Shakhter will prepare to face.
Memory of the day:
We lost the first leg of our European Cup, first round, tie against Partizan Tirana in 1979 1-0. It was thought important for Celtic to score first in the return but Partizan doubled their lead and scored an away goal.
Celtic went on to hit four and progress, although none of the strikers got on the score-sheet, Davie Provan played arguably his best game for the club.
Bring it on……..
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