Back in 2013, a young Virgil van Dijk made his first start for Celtic – along side the long-forgotten Steven Mouyokolo – at exactly the same Astana Arena that will host Scotland on Thursday.

The Scottish champions endured a calamitous evening over the surface, losing 2-0 into Shakhter Karagandy from the Champions League play-off round.

“They did not surprise me,” said director Neil Lennon, whose side over-turned the shortage in the second leg.

Celtic have gone to the portion of mid-Asia twice since to face Astana and people visits additionally supplied rigorous examinations, despite the fact that they had the comfort of some 5-0 first-leg lead in their most recent trip.

Aberdeen also have sampled the Kazakh welcome but were eliminated in the Europa League qualifiers by Kairat of Almaty at 2015.

The Kazakh national team may be ranked 117, but Scotland have dropped points against substantially poorer sides in the past and three points are a must when they have been to rival Belgium and Russia for qualification.

Also it might perhaps not be an easy nighttime in front of around 20,000 expectant Kazakhs on Thursday.

Karagandy and Astana have both featured in group platform European football – the latter at the Champions League – and, while they have a heritage of coming near qualification, their brand fresh Czech trainer, Michal Bilek, knows just how to get the business done.

Kazakhs to watch


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