Five things you should know about Celtic opponents Hapoel Be’er Sheva

Be'er Sheva's old ground Vasermil Stadium, prior to their 2015 move to Turner Stadium. Picture: Getty

Be'er Sheva's old ground Vasermil Stadium, prior to their 2015 move to Turner Stadium. Picture: Getty

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Celtic have been drawn against Hapoel Be’er Sheva in the play-off round of the Champions League.

180 minutes and a 5,000-mile round trip to face the Israeli champions is all that separates Brendan Rodgers’ men with a return to the group stages.

Here’s everything you need to know about Celtic’s opponents.

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This is their first year in the European Cup/Champions League

Last season was only the third time in their history that Be’er Sheva have won the Israeli top flight. They previously won the championship two years in a row in 1975 and 1976, though only in the second year did it gain them entry into European competition, and even then it was the Intertoto Cup. In their first ever UCL qualifier they defeated Sheriff Tiraspol of Moldova after winning 3-2 at home and drawing 0-0 away, before shocking Greek side Olympiacos with a 1-0 win over two legs to set up the clash with Celtic.

They moved to a new stadium at the beginning of last season

At the beginning of last season they moved from Vasermil Stadium to the newly opened Turner Stadium - not to be confused with the one in Atlanta, Georgia (USA). Named after former Be’er Sheva mayor Yaakov Turner, it boasts a capacity of 16,000 with four similarly constructed stands. Think Easter Road or Rugby Park with a slightly reduced capacity.

They have 11 international players

Nine of these are Israeli internationals. The Blue and Whites failed to make it to Euro 2016 after finishing fourth in a group also comprising of Belgium, Wales, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus and Andorra. There’s also Nigerian John Ogu and Ovidiu Hoban of Romania in the Be’er Sheva squad.

Two Bittons play for the Israeli champions

Although, as far as we can tell, neither of them are related to Celtic’s Nir Bitton. Wikipedia would have you believe that Dan Bitton “is a second cousin to Celtic FC player Nir Bitton” but as you may be able to guess, this was added in an edit made 10 minutes after the draw was announced.

The club retired the No.6 shirt after the death of a player

Zambian international striker Chaswe Nsofwa had only recently signed for Be’er Sheva when the tragedy occurred. Four days after his debut, where he scorded twice, Nsofwa collapsed during a training match with Maccabi Be’er Sheva. He died of suspected heart failure.

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