Stuart McCall doesn’t expect second Stjarnan shock

Stuart McCall: Shock defeat. Picture: John Devlin
Stuart McCall: Shock defeat. Picture: John Devlin
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Former Rangers manager Stuart McCall had his heart broken by Stjarnan last year – but he’s sure that Celtic won’t suffer the same fate.

The Icelandic minnows held his Motherwell side to a 2-2 draw at Fir Park and then beat them 3-2 after extra time in the return.

However, he reckons that was a freak result and, while he believes that they have players who might do some damage to Celtic over the two legs, he 
expects Ronny Deila’s men to ease into the next round.

“For a start, I don’t believe they are as strong as they were last year and that’s good news for Celtic,” said the Scotland coach.

“The big advantage they have is that their season has already started and this will be their 12th competitive game while it’s Celtic’s first.

“However, they’re not doing too well at the moment – they’re sixth in their league after winning it last time out – and their confidence might not be too high. Also, while they’re quite capable from midfield to front, they’re not too great at the back and that should help Ronny’s side.

“Then again, they didn’t concede at all when they beat a much stronger Lech Poznan side in the next round last year so you never know. That shows that they have a bit of resolve.

“Celtic will want to have this tie put to bed tomorrow night and they should be able to do that. I reckon that if they can get an early goal then the floodgates will open.

“The last thing they want is to go back to their place with the outcome still in the balance. Their Samsungvollur stadium is tiny, with a capacity of just 1,000, and they have an old Astroturf pitch which is quite dead.

“With no disrespect to Stjarnan, though, Celtic are in a different class and they should put quite a few goals past them.”

The memory of last season’s shock defeat for the Steelmen still haunts McCall.

“Kenny Black and I had watched them beat Bangor City in the previous round and, while taking nothing for granted, we also expected that the tie could be over after the game at Fir Park,” he said.

“After 15 minutes Josh Law had scored twice to put us 2-0 up and we were cruising. Then, on the stroke of half-time, Keith Lasley inexplicably stuck his hand out and they were awarded a penalty.

“He then brought down one of their players in the final minute and they scored from the spot again to get a draw.

“Even then, we were the better team over there and took the lead twice. Unbelievably, Keith conceded another penalty and we ended up going out.

“I’m not blaming him for the defeat but I don’t imagine he’d given away three penalties in his career before those games. It was freakish.”