IN 1993, while Celtic were suffering the worst period in their own history, a football club by the name of Qarabag FK from the Republic of Azerbaijan was also going through something of a testing time.

Unlike their Scottish counterparts who some 22 years later they will get to play in a Champions League qualifier, there were no problems with biscuit tins, fan boycotts or a ridiculous notion of moving the stadium to wasteland where a bowling alley was seemingly going to be the answer to all their prayers.

Those travails, as annoying as they were for Celtic supporters back then, don’t really compare to losing your head coach as Qarabag did when poor Allahverdi Bagirov’s car ran over a land mine during the Nagorno-Karabakh war when the city of Aghdam, where the club originate from, was under Armenian control and ethnic cleansing was very much in vogue.

They had to move to the Capital and for many years had no money, hope or trophies to speak of.

The story of this football club is a bloody and sad one, however, it did get better. How much better will be determined with what happens over the upcoming two legs with Celtic, the first match taking place next Wednesday in Glasgow.

There would not have been too many more awkward draws for Ronny Deila and he knows it. Qarabag may not be a big name, but this is a club which has emerged through dark times to become a dangerous football team who last season drew with Inter Milan in the Europa League group stages and beat Dnipro.

Under their manager, the wonderfully named Gurban Gurbanov, they have become the most successful team in terms of European results to come from Azerbaijan and have a reputation for good attacking football. They will not fear Celtic and neither should they.

Rudar Pljevlja manager Mirko Maric, whose side lost to Qarabag on Wednesday night, made the point that the team now based in Baku, they play at the national stadium, have an annual budget of £30million which has helped them sign many overseas players. These include three Brazilians, with striker Reynaldo a particular favourite of the supporters.

Pljevlja may have exaggerated that figure somewhat but what can’t be denied is that Celtic will have to at their best, not pre-season level but their full potential, if they are to get into the play-off round which even if they lost would give them Europa League football.

Deila, the Celtic manager, has watched his next opponents and knows that this is going to be a huge step up from FC Stjarnan. The season has now started for real.

“They are a very good team,” the Norwegian said. “They beat Twente Enschede in the Europa League qualifiers and did well in the Europa League group as well. So we have to be at the top of our game to win.

"It’s a difficult draw but you can’t think like that. We have to take what is coming in front of us. We know we are good enough. But we have to be at our best and at least we are at home first. That is going to be an important match.

"It’s normal that when you get bigger tasks you step it up. So we need to be at our Inter Milan level to get through.”

A 7000 mile round-trip does add to the complexity of the challenge, it’s also going to be warm over there, but as Deila pointed out, that disadvantage can also work as an advantage for Celtic.

“Now it’s important to understand it’s going to be hard for them as well,” he said. “They have to go to Scotland the same as we have to go to them. So they also have a difficult journey to come to Glasgow.

“But we have to prepare well and I think we will go there one day before the normal to adapt because it is five hours or something on the plane.”

FC Stjarnan won a lot of friends over the past week. The Icelandic club were great hosts, their fans boisterous and who backed their team even when the dream had long since died. Good luck to them.

And they gave Celtic a bit of a scare. At 1-0 down, Deila’s men toiled just a bit before pulling themselves together and scoring four goals of their down. It was a test of nerves and one they passed.

“I have been through many games like this on artificial surfaces against teams you should beat, “ said Deila. “The most important thing is to stay calm because something stupid can happen if you don’t.

“But I knew we were going to get chances and that if we got a goal we would get more. We did that. But you don’t want to concede, of course. You want to have it at 0-0 as long as possible.

“It would have been easy to panic. But we stayed calm because we have turned around games like this before and we did it again here. That’s a strength we have.

“The players are looking forward to every game now. Everybody knows that the longer you go in the competition the better teams you meet. I’m just looking forward to next Wednesday. It’s in the head as much as the legs.

“You have to be concentrated and tactically good. And you have to have good discipline in the team and patience is very important. We are going to be prepared for next week.”