Shakhter Karagandy 'sacrifice sheep' ahead of Celtic clash

Kazakh side Shakhter Karagandy have called on an unusual means to gain the edge over Celtic in their crucial Champions League play off clash Tuesday by slaughtering a sheep at the stadium for good luck.

Shakhter Karagandy, one of the most easterly sides in European football, are hosting Celtic in the Kazakh capital of Astana and will need everything on their side to overcome the Scottish giants.

Coach Viktor Kumykov said that the Kazakh champions had slaughtered a sheep a day ahead of the clash but said there was no reason for the ritual sacrifice to be the cause of any fuss.

"We are just observing a tradition. The guys decided that being in the play-off is a new level and we are not going to violate this tradition," he said in comments on the Karagandy website.

The website said a cleric from the local mosque was invited to oversee the sacrifice and published a picture of the unfortunate black sheep being led out onto the pitch on a cart.

In many Muslim majority countries like Kazakhstan, the ritual slaughter of a sheep is seen as bringing good fortune ahead of a major event. The meat from the slaughtered sheep is then often distributed among the poor.