Jonny Hayes on Celtic's hidden Sarajevo spy

By Hamish Carton

July 8, 2019

Jonny Hayes is expecting FK Sarajevo to provide a tough test for Celtic in their Champions League opener.

Neil Lennon takes his side over to the Bosnian capital for Tuesday’s first qualifying round, first leg clash at the Asim Ferhatovic Hase Stadium. The Hoops will then host the minnows eight days later in the Glasgow return.

Little is known about Husref Musemic’s side but Hayes revealed that one current Celtic star has been filling in his teammates with some vital information.

(Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

Hoops defender Jozo Simunovic, who is of Bosnian descent, has been updating his fellow players with what to expect.

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Hayes told The Herald: “Jozo has a little bit more insight into that region if you like, and he says they are a good team. They won the league by five points, and no matter what league you’re in, to win it by five points is decent going.

“They will be a decent team and they’ve signed some new players as well, so it will be a decent test. But we’ll be prepped and ready to go. It’s a little bit of a step into the unknown, but we’re used to it by now. ”

(Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Hayes is right about Sarajevo

In previous years, Celtic’s first European tie has been seen as a chance to build fitness and match sharpness. The recent six-goal aggregate victories over Linfield and Alashkert were far too easy, with the Hoops barely breaking sweat.

However, this year’s test does look like a different proposition. Celtic are unlikely to roll over Sarajevo on Tuesday night. The Bosnians have half-decent European pedigree having competed well against the likes of Atalanta and Borussia Monchengladbach on one-off games in recent years.

(Photo by Mustafa Ozturk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

On both of those occasions, Sarajevo earned decent first-leg results before being thumped in the return legs. It’s almost as if the favourites underestimated their opponents at first before dismantling them a week later.

Celtic can’t afford to underestimate Sarajevo on Tuesday night. A score draw or a narrow victory would probably be a good result. A defeat or a 0-0 and things could get very interesting the following week.