Celtic rivals' unusual hitch ahead of Champions League tie

By David Walton

July 21, 2019

Celtic’s European foes Nomme Kalju have been hit with some surprising visa troubles ahead of Wednesday.

The Hoops will welcome the Estonians to Parkhead for the first leg of their Champions League second qualifying round. The second leg will take place in Tallinn next Tuesday. Neil Lennon will be hoping to win the tie with minimal fuss ahead of potentially greater challenges.

But it sounds as though the Estonians have had a slight hitch or two with their traveling. According to the Sun, it turns out that manager Roman Kozhukhovski and defender Andriy Markovych have struggled to get UK visas in time for the game.

Nomme Kalju are set to arrive in Glasgow over the next 24 hours (Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

That means that they won’t travel with the squad to Glasgow today. Instead, they have to travel to the UK Embassy in Paris to try and obtain their visas.

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The pair should still get to Glasgow in time for Wednesday night. But it’s hardly ideal for both as they’ll look to get some rest before their trip to Celtic Park.

Roman Kozhukhovski will have done his tactical prep

It’s unlikely to seriously have a big dent in Kalju’s prep work for Wednesday. The Estonians’ gaffer will surely have done most of his prep work back home before the trip to Glasgow.

It’s also worth noting that this is something Kozhukhovski and Markovych will have known for short while. They’ll have planned appropriately, or at the very least should’ve done.

Neil Lennon won’t be taking any notice of Kalju’s prep (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

It’s hardly going to lead to an unorganised performance from Kalju. Outside of the duo, there’s been no further issues reported. But it could, at the very least, mean that Kozhukhovski doesn’t get as much time in Glasgow with his squad as first planned.

The Nomme Kalju manager should have a pretty well-rested side for the first leg at Parkhead. He stated during the weekend that Kalju’s 1-1 draw at home to Paide on Friday night saw most of his first-team rested (The Scotsman). He did say, however, that his squad was pretty fatigued as it stands.

It’s not adding up to the best of prep for Kalju in truth. The poor Paide result combined with the visa issues will have a slight effect. Probably not anything too substantial, but it’s not ideal for them either.

Celtic overcame Sarajevo in the first qualifying round (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Celtic won’t be preparing for anything other than the best Kalju performance possible. It’s that attitude and that attitude alone that will help take us to the group stages.

It remains to be seen if any further problems arise in Kalju’s travels. For the manager and his centre-back, however, it’s not an ideal start to their prep.