Celtic should have a clearer picture of their Champions League qualification task even before a ball is kicked in Bosnia.
That’s because the Hoops’ potential second round opponents Nomme Kalju and Shkendija square off in Estonia on Tuesday afternoon. The game kicks-off at 5pm Scottish time meaning that it will be coming to a close by the time Neil Lennon’s men get underway against Sarajevo.
The Macedonians Shkendija are big favourites for the tie if bookmakers odds are anything to go by. They’re down as 1/2 favourites for tonight’s clash in Estonia alone, while their odds to win the overall tie are as short as 1/25.
Even Celtic are only 1/16 to see off Sarajevo over two legs – so Shkendija are effectively bigger favourites to win their tie than ourselves.
Celtic’s Champions League task won’t be easy
Shkendija would offer a pretty similar challenge to Sarajevo in terms of club size, ability and testing conditions. Just like Bosnia, Macedonia gets very warm in the month of July so the Celtic players may find themselves in roasting temperatures more than once this summer.
If we get past our first two qualifiers then we’ll still have two more rounds to navigate. They will also likely be against better opposition and in even more testing environments. Nobody said that Champions League qualification was going to be easy.
However, Neil Lennon has done it before and will aim to do so again.