Celtic Face Stjarnan
15 July 2015, 06:00
Stjarnan players will have to deliver top class performances if they are overcome Celtic, according to boss Runar Pall Sigmundsson.
The Icelandic minnows, whose squad is made up mostly of students, are in Glasgow for the first leg of their opening Champions League qualifier tonight with few giving them much hope of a positive result against the Scottish champions.
Last season Stjarnan won through three Europa League qualifiers - including victory over Motherwell either side of triumphs over Bangor City and Lech Poznan - before losing 9-0 on aggregate to Italian giants Inter Milan in the play-off.
Speaking before his side trained at Celtic Park yesterday, Sigmundsson conceded that his team will have to find another level if they are to succeed against the Hoops.
"Celtic are a big team in Europe, we are a small team,'' he said.
"There is a chance of victory but we have to play our best game, every player has to play the game of his life.
"It will be difficult but there is always a chance.
"They are still preparing for their season so maybe that is an opportunity for us but we have not played so well this season.
"The number one (priority) is to have a great result in the away game.
"We have a big focus on that, so that we have a chance to have a great game at home
"It is the first time in the Champions League which is great for us so we are looking forward to playing this game.''
Stjarnan, indeed, have made a poor start to the defence of their league title, sitting sixth in the table after 11 games, nine points adrift of leaders Hafnarfjordur.
Sigmundsson, who acknowledged his uncanny resemblance to German boss Jurgen Klopp, is hoping his side's debut in the Champions League qualifiers can kick-start their season at home.
"This is a different type of game,'' he said. "I expect every player can lift their quality up and this can be a new point for our league performances.
"So I look forward to seeing what our players can do.''
Captain Michael Praest, a Danish defender who signed for the club in 2013, believes that experience and the continuing improvement in the game in Iceland offers some hope of a shock outcome.
He said: "This is my third year in Iceland and during that time the quality has improved a lot and you can see that in international football and in what we did in Europe last season.
"That gave us experience in how to play European football.
"We know we need a lot of luck and we have to play perfectly, defensive-minded, over two ties, but it is going to be difficult.''