Karagandy boss defends slaughter ritual ahead of Celtic clash

Kumykov plans to continue sheep sacrifice before Parkhead tie

Shakhter’s players celebrate their second goal against Celtic during the first leg

Shakhter’s players celebrate their second goal against Celtic during the first leg

 

Shakhter Karagandy boss Viktor Kumykov plans to continue the Kazakh club’s sheep-sacrificing ritual ahead of their Champions League play-off second-leg tie against Celtic at Parkhead.

The Kazakh champions caused a stir when they killed a sheep at the Astana Arena the day before last Tuesday night’s 2-0 first-leg win over the Hoops.

Animal rights group Peta expressed their outrage in a strongly-worded letter to Uefa president urging Michel Platini to punish Shakhter.

Kumykov’s pre-match press conference at Celtic Park on Tuesday afternoon took a surreal turn when the subject was broached.

Speaking through an interpreter, the Russian said: “All I can say is that every team and every club has its own pre-match traditions and rituals.

“Celtic must have their own. We will try to respect our traditions and those traditions have been in place even before we came to the club.”

Asked if the ritual would take place, he replied,“Possibly, yes.”

Then, when asked where he planned to get the sheep, Kumykov, to laughter, replied: “As far as we know in Scotland the agriculture is very developed so it shouldn’t be an issue to find a sheep.”

The Shakhter boss, though, played down the effects the pre-match ritual had had on the first game in Kazakhstan.

He said: “Of course this tradition may have certain psychological impact on players that can help them to relax before the game.

“But obviously, what really matters is on the football pitch, the game and the final score and you know we scored twice in the first-leg and Celtic failed to score, that’s what really matters.”

Shakhter are on the cusp of becoming the first club from Kazakhstan to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League, although a place in the group stages of the Europa League is guaranteed.

Kumykov, though, tried to play down the pressure of taking the final step to join Europe’s elite.

“There is an additional pressure on my shoulders, I feel that but it doesn’t have to be Champions League,” he said.

“It won’t be a tragedy for us if we don’t qualify to the Champions League group stages.

“As we stated before, the main task was to qualify for the group stage of a European competition and we have achieved this anyway.

“It may be even better if we don’t qualify for the Champions League group stages because in football it is always better when you develop gradually.”

Earlier, Celtic boss Neil Lennon accused Kumykov of disrespect towards his side after he has been quoted as saying they would “score a pair of goals” in Glasgow to take them through to the group stages.

At Celtic’s training complex in Lennoxtown this morning, Hoops manager Lennon hit back, saying: “We know we have to win the game by three goals.

“If they score we need to score four, if they score two – according to their manager – then we need to score five.

“I think it (their confidence) is very dangerous and it can always come back to bite you.

“This is a two-game tie and it is disrespectful to my team as well.

“I don’t need to motivate my players for tomorrow night but if they want to keep talking the way they are doing then that’s fine.”

Lennon confirmed that midfielder Beram Kayal will miss the game with a groin complaint that will keep him out for a fortnight.

The Israel international picked up the injury in Saturday’s 2-2 home Scottish Premiership draw with Inverness and while Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk was troubled with a hamstring at the weekend, he will be fit.

Anthony Stokes (calf), Georgios Samaras (toe), Derk Boerrigter (ankle), James Forrest (sciatica) all missed the game against Caley but should train today.

Kris Commons also missed the match with a groin strain and will not train but Lennon is not ruling him out.

He said: “We are hoping that four of the five who missed Saturday will take part in training today but whether they finish the session is another thing.”

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