The first game of Celtic’s season kicks off in less than an hour. But what do we know about this club from Armenia?
The club are based in the capital, Yerevan. They were originally founded in 1990 and based in Martuni, but were dissolved in 2000.
In 2011 they were refounded by the current owners. That makes them slightly older than the current Ibrox club.
Since then they have relocated, moving to the current stadium in 2013. They have won the Armenian title three times.
In 2015, they made there first appearance in Europe. The first qualifying round of the Europa League paired them with St Johnstone who they beat on away goals.
That lead them to the second qualifying round against Kairat. The Kazakh team put the Armenian newcomers out 4-2 on aggregate.
The following season they entered the Champions League first qualifying round for tge first time. Santa Coloma were their opponents and beat the Andorrans 3-0 on aggregate. In the next round they faced Dinamo Tblisi who won 3-1 on aggregate.
Last season Alashkert played Santa Coloma once again. On this occasion it was a 2-1 aggregate victory for the Armenians.
Next up was BATE Borisov who like Tbilisi won the second round of the Champions League qualifier 4-2 on aggregate. And that brings us to this season and Celtic.
There’s no doubt that this is the toughest first qualifying round Alashkert will have had. That doesn’t mean it will be a walk in the park for Celtic either.
It is the first time Celtic have faced an Armenian club. As @SPLstats pointed out on Twitter, Celtic have now played clubs from 42 of the 55 UEFA nations.
The Alashkert squad is largely made up of Armenians, but they also have Russian, Serbian, Mexican and Brazilian nationalities within their setup. The latter stems from their partnerships with Brazilian clubs Botafogo and Fluminese.
For both teams, it is the first game of the season. So there is no advantage in terms of preparation.
Celtic are missing players through injury and World Cup duty. They have a team more than capable of making progress though.
The season starts today in Yerevan. Come on the Hoops!