Neil Lennon's team will have to stage a major recovery to save their hope of a £20m entry to the group stage after losing 2-0 in the first leg of the play-off round. If they are knocked out they will drop into the Europa League group stage but that would earn them barely a quarter of what the Champions League would bring.
The president of the Kazakhstan league gave a withering assessment of Celtic's attitude last night and claimed Shakhter would show no fear in next Wednesday's second leg at Parkhead.
Shakhter's victory was viewed as a huge story in Kazakhstan and was celebrated as one of the country's finest sporting achievements. Mikael Gurman, chairman of the Professional Football League of Kazakhstan, claimed Celtic did not take Shakhter seriously enough. "The Scots came and expected to win the game," he said. "They didn't even think about the possibility of a draw. But they paid the price for thinking like that and they completely misjudged the situation. I believed in victory and said before the game Celtic were a team that could be beaten. Our players showed more desire to win. Shakhter tactically outplayed their opponents, defended well and attacked at the right moments. I thought they could have won 3-0 actually, but 2-0 is good enough. They are gaining experience with every game in Europe and have nothing to fear in Scotland."
The notion that Celtic showed less desire than Shakhter was echoed by the Kazak champions' defender, Gediminas Vicius. "I am surprised that we won because everyone knows Celtic are a strong team," said the long-throw expert. "But I think the difference was that we wanted it more and therefore achieved the win. I would say Celtic are a similar team to BATE Borisov [the Belarusian club Shakhter eliminated in the second qualifying round]. Although they are physically stronger, BATE are better technically. Now we travel to Glasgow and we all know that it is going to be ever harder than it was here. We're not wasting time celebrating because the job is not done yet."
Adylbek Jaksybekov, president of the Football Federation of Kazakhstan, said the result "was a great night for football in Kazakhstan and vindicates our decision to play in the Champions League of Europe rather than go to Asia".
As Celtic flew back from Astana to Glasgow yesterday there was some potentially encouraging news for them from the Netherlands, where it emerged that transfer target Alfred Finnbogason had turned down a new contract offer from his club, Heerenveen. Lennon has not ruled Celtic out of the race for the 24-year-old Icelander, the leading goalscorer in the Eredivisie, despite the Dutch side asking £5m for him.
Finnbogason's agent, Magnus Agnar Magnusson, said: "We want Heerenveen to give Alfred the recognition he needs to show that he is a very important player for the club. If you want to keep a player who would earn the club a lot of money, then that player should also get an appropriate salary."
That attitude drew a frosty response from Heerenveen's sporting director, Gaston Sporre, who said: "It seems Alfred and his agent do not know about our financial scarcity. And if there is one country where they should know all about financial scarcity, then it is Iceland. We are going to talk to them in private again. We have a ceiling on wages, but it seems the Icelanders think we can smash through it."
Celtic, meanwhile, have been dragged into a FIFA investigation into the sell-on fees to be distributed from their £12.5m transfer of Victor Wanyama to Southampton. The transfer has created a scramble involving four Kenyan clubs who all believe they should get a cut of the sell-on fee. The Kenyan FA have revealed that FIFA are now investigating the messy affair.
Wanyama played for a number of clubs in Kenya, where he was born, before moving to Swedish side Helsingborgs and onto Belgian outfit Beerschot. Although Beerschot subsequently went bust, the African clubs are desperate for a slice of almost £600,000 they believe they are due. According to FIFA rules, clubs that produce players during their "development phase" are entitled to a percentage of the total transfer fees whenever they change clubs. Now world football's governing body are involved and gathering evidence after a request from a Nairobi club called Country Bus FC.
Wanyama, who made his Premier League debut for Southampton at the weekend, will be asked by FIFA to give evidence as Kenyan clubs battle for a slice of Celtic's huge transfer fee.