Kairat Almaty head coach Vladimir Weiss believes eliminating Aberdeen tonight would be the catalyst his side need to go on and make Kazakh history.
No two teams from from the former Soviet state have played in European group stages during the same season but – with Kazakh Premier League champions FC Astana having knocked out HJK Helsinki 4-3 on aggregate in the third Champions League qualifying round last night – both sides would be just one round away from doing so.
The 50-year-old’s side hold a 2-1 first-leg advantage in the Europa League qualifier against the Dons, but Weiss has told his players they cannot afford to play defensively at a sold-out Pittodrie.
He said: “Aberdeen are a good team with a strong coach. They came back from Kazakhstan and had a good result in the derby against Dundee United.
“They are strong as a team and I believe we will need to score to go through.”
Only Shakhter Karagandy have played in the Europa League group stages – in season 2013-14 after being knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers by Celtic.
“It would be a dream for us to qualify, not just for the next stage but the group stages,” added Weiss.
“Astana got through to the next round of the Champions League and we now want to do the same in the Europa League.
“It would be a big moment in our country’s history to have teams get into the group stages of both competitions.”