Champions League: Celtic meet Kazakhstan's Shakhter Karagandy

Neil Lennon

Celtic manager Neil Lennon admits Champions League play-off opponents Shakhter Karagandy are "a bit of an unknown" to the Scottish side.

Lennon's men will travel to Kazakhstan for the first leg on 20 August, with the return at Celtic Park on 28 August.

Shakhter defeated the Belarusians BATE Borisov 2-0 on aggregate in the third qualifying round while Celtic beat Swedes Elfsborg 1-0 over two legs.

"Logistically it will be a nightmare in terms of travelling," said Lennon.

"It could have been kinder but it could have been tougher as well.

"It will be impossible for me to go and watch them, but hopefully we'll have some representation over there."

Joe Ledley and Mohamed Bangura
Celtic overcame Elfsborg in the previous round

Should Celtic win their first ever tie against Kazakh opposition, they will progress to the Champions League group stages.

Shakhter Karagandy play in the Karagandy province capital city of Karaganda. The city has a population of 460,000 and August temperatures average 18-25 degrees.

However, the club have been required to play all their Champions League qualifying games in Kazakhstan's capital Astana because their own home ground does not comply with Uefa standards.

Plans are in place for a new stadium to be built as part of a regeneration programme.

and Lennon is keen to strengthen his player pool before the double-header with Shakhter.

"We are burnt in terms of numbers and hope to add to the squad over the next couple of days, the deadline is Monday," said the manager.

"I'm not envisaging anyone else leaving, it's about strengthening the squad now. We're working very hard and it's ongoing."

Former Celtic midfielder and assistant manager Murdo MacLeod says the tie will be a tough encounter for the Scottish champions, but insists Lennon will be pleased to have avoided potentially more dangerous sides.

"There's so many teams about, tricky ones - but this is a newer club, and they're new to European football," said MacLeod. "It's a very good draw for Celtic."

MacLeod also believes the artificial surface will not be a big factor in Lennon's plans for the game, as he will be more relieved about having the second tie at home, where he will know what is required to progress.

"Neil will have his scouts going over to watch them play two or three times before the first game," said the BBC Scotland pundit.

"They'll be well looked at, and they'll get films of their qualifiers in the first and second round.

"Getting by the first two or three rounds tells you they've got something. They'll be hard to beat, but Celtic know what they have to do. I don't think they'll need to change too much.

"Having the first leg away is helpful, because going into the unknown is quite difficult, you know coming back to Celtic Park you have a better chance.

"Neil was talking about the pitch in Elfsborg and he was polite about it before the game, but after getting through he said it was one of the worst he's played on.

"We don't know the quality of it, but the Celtic players will just need to get on with it."

Champions League play-off round:

Dinamo Zagreb v FK Austria Vienna

Ludogorets v Basle

Plzen v Maribor

Shakhter Karagandy v Celtic

Steaua Bucuresti v Legia Warsaw

Lyon v Real Sociedad

Schalke 04 v FC Metalist Kharkiv

Pacos Ferreira v Zenit St Petersburg

PSV v AC Milan

Fenerbahce v Arsenal

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