Shakhter Karagandy boss says whole nation are behind them against Celtic
Viktor Kumykov says everyone in Kazakhstan will support his team against the Scottish champions.
Viktor Kumykov believes the whole of Kazakhstan will be behind his Shakhter Karagandy side when they face Celtic in the first leg of the Champions League play-off at the Astana Arena.
The club are aiming to become the first from the country to reach the group stages of Europe's premier club competition as they come up against Neil Lennon's men.
Kumykov claims everyone in the country will put aside their usual allegiances to root for his side in what has turned into something of a national event.
"We believe the supporters are very important in this game," said the Russian.
"We think there will be many supporters there, not only from Karaganda (the main city in Karagandy province) and Astana but from other parts of the country and we believe and hope the whole nation will be behind us."
Shakhter beat BATE Borisov and Skenderbeu of Albania to reach this stage, although Kumykov says his team remain the underdogs heading into the match.
"This game is going to be very difficult for us," he said.
"We are newcomers to the Champions League, Celtic is a very experienced club and are former champions of Europe.
"We are students and they are teachers. Our main task is to obtain the experience of playing in the Champions League and I am hoping we will be able to show our best game.
"We recognise that Celtic are more experienced and stronger than us.
"But football is illogical and you cannot be sure about anything.
"In football, the strongest side does not always win and there are many examples of that, even in the Champions League.
"We have watched all their European games, the game against Aberdeen and the friendly against Liverpool.
"They are a very good side, with very good players.
"Celtic also play aggressively so we expect it to be a very tough game."
Kumykov was less forthcoming when asked to comment on the revelation that the Kazakhstan club had again killed a sheep in order to bring them good luck.
The sacrifice took place at the stadium before the players trained but the Shakhter boss tried to play it down.
"This is a play-off round and we decided not to break this tradition," he said.
"It is quite important for us. I would not like to disclose in detail."
Shakhter Karagandy go into the game on the back of a 2-1 league win over Astana at the same stadium where they will take on the Hoops.
Captain Andrei Finonchenko, who scored the winning goal as a substitute on Saturday, says his team-mates now believe they can progress.
"When we played BATE, we did not believe we would reach this stage," he said.
"But after we beat BATE and then Skenderbeu the players became more confident.
"We are highly motivated going into this game and hope to do our best."