DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Sacha Kljestan looks to make his competitive debut for Anderlecht in Champions League qualifying while Dominic Cervi will serve as backup keeper on Celtic's trip to Portugal.
The New Saints - Anderlecht
Sacha Kljestan will get his first taste of European action for Anderlecht on Tuesday when they head to the English-Welsh border to face The New Saints.
While still several days away from beginning their domestic season, Kljestan and his new teammates have already begun on a high note, as they captured their ninth Belgium Supercup trophy on Friday evening with a 1-0 victory over Gent.
The former Chivas man got the start in central midfield and went 60 minutes in the winning effort, and can be expected to see significant time in the thick of things on Tuesday.
While the team should have no problems beating their Welsh opponents over two legs, they will still have their poor record in the Champions League during recent seasons weighing on their minds as they take an important step towards the group stage.
They have failed to reach the group stage in each of the previous three seasons, and fared barely better in the four preceding, finishing dead last in their respective group on each occasion.
The Purple & White will travel to The Saints' quaint 2000-capacity ground of Park Hall with one noticeable exception from their pre-season squad; Czech international midfielder Jan Polak will not join the team as he just secured a transfer to Turkish team Galatasaray. The team otherwise has a full squad of players to choose from.
The Saints were thrilled to down Irish Premier League champions Bohemians in the second qualifying round, posting up a dominant 4-0 home-leg performance after having fallen behind by a goal in the opening game.
The team is still in its preseason, several weeks away from the start of their 2010-11 domestic campaign meaning they are also fortunate to have a healthy squad heading into the encounter.
The return leg will be played the following Tuesday in Anderlecht's Constant Vanden Stock Stadium.
American keeper Dominic Cervi will watch from the bench as backup to Łukasz Załuska on Wednesday when Celtic travel to Portugal to face Braga in their Champions League game.