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Alashkert: All you need to know about Celtic's opponents

The Hoops travel to Armenia for the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round.

Alashkert eliminated St Johnstone in 2015.
Alashkert eliminated St Johnstone in 2015. SNS

Celtic travel to Yerevan to face Alashkert in the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round on Tuesday.

The Scottish champions are looking to make a third successive appearance in the group stage but first must overcome four two-legged ties, with their journey beginning in Eastern Europe.

Ahead of the first leg, STV offers the lowdown on the Armenian champions.

History

Football Club Alashkert, simply known as Alashkert, are relatively new kids on the block.

Founded in 1990, all of the side's top level silverware has arrived in recent years. Their three Premier League titles have been won back-to-back over the past three seasons and they lifted the Armenian Supercup for the first time in 2016.

It hasn't all been rosy for the capital club though. A turbulent beginning saw the side finish last in their first season in the Premier League in 1992 and then subsequently withdraw from the competition.

Six years later, Alashkert returned to play in the second-tier where they finished sixth, but the following season they did not participate and the club dissolved in early 2000.

Their revival came in 2011, when the club were re-founded and earned promotion to the Premier League after they won the first league championship. In their first season back in the top-flight they finished eighth, before climbing to fourth the following season, and then came their three successive league wins in 2015-16, 2016-17, and 2017-18.

European Record

Alashkert are no strangers to Scottish opposition.

Their first ever European tie was against St Johnstone in a Europa League qualifier in July 2015.

They knocked the Saints out on the away goal rule in the first round of qualifying and progressed to play Aberdeen's eventual conquerors Kairat Almaty in the next stage.

They recorded a 2-1 home win over the Kazakh side but were eliminated after they fell to a 3-0 away defeat.

In total, the Yerevan-based outfit have played 12 matches in Europe - eight in the Champions League and four in the Europa League - and have won all their first-round ties in both competitions.

As well as St Johnstone and Kairat Almaty, the Armenian side have faced Santa Coloma of Andorra on two separate occasions, Dinamo Tbilisi of Georgia and Belarussian side BATE Borisov. They recorded home wins over St Johnstone (1-0), Kairat (2-1), Santa Coloma (3-0 and 1-0).

Where do they play?

The Armenian champions play their home games at the 6850-capacity Alashkert Stadium but the match has been moved to the much larger Republican Stadium.

The hosts are attempting to fill the national ground, which can hold around 15,000, by giving away free tickets.

According to the club's chairman Bagrat Navoyan, their own stadium will be either renovated or entirely rebuilt by 2020, with a possible expansion of the capacity up to 10,000.

Who's in charge?

Brendan Rodgers will go up against Varuzhan Sukiasyan - a manager with vast experience in his home country.

He has managed over ten clubs in Armenia as well as having two spells in charge of the national team.

Sukiasyan won the first of his Armenian Premier League's in 1998 with Tsement Ararat and this year won the title with Alashkert by six points.

Between 2010 and 2015 Sukiasyan worked as the chief of the Yerevan Funeral Home in the country's capital.

Notable players

The Armenian champions have recruited five new players ahead of the Champions League first round tie, one of whom has a reputation as a hothead.

Brazilian attacker Jefferson Reis saw red earlier this year whilst playing for Operaio after he battered a ball boy for excessively celebrating a goal against his team. He is expected to start on Tuesday.

And one of Alashkert's players has actually spent time with Celtic - a week to be exact.

Defender Dino Skvorc, spent seven days training with then-manager Neil Lennon at Celtic in 2010 when he was a Croatia Under 21 prospect but the Parkhead side reportedly weren't prepared to pay the £1m fee

Skvorc went on to play in Israel, Romania and Cyprus before signing for Alashkert earlier this year.

Armenian international striker Artak Yedigaryan could prove to be a potential danger after finishing top scorer in the league for the last two years.

Conditions

Brendan Rodgers' side face an uncomfortable evening in the Armenian capital with the temperatures likely to be around 33°C at kick-off.

Who awaits the winner in second round?

Celtic could face a rematch with Rosenborg should they overcome Alashkert.

The Norwegian side face Iceland's Valur in their first round qualifying tie, with the winner meeting either the Scottish or Armenian champions in the next round.

Brendan Rodgers can take confidence from last seasons meeting where they defeated Rosenborg 1-0 on aggregate in the third qualifying round.

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