BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Aberdeen will be praying the appointment of Miroslav Zelinka proves to be a good omen after the Czech whistler oversaw crucial triumphs for Celtic, St Johnstone and Scotland.
The 34-year-old whistler is no stranger to these shores, with every game he has taken charge of on Scottish soil resulting in a positive outcome for the home side.
And Aberdeen need that luck to continue as they aim to overcome a 2-1 deficit against Kairat Almaty in front of a bumper crowd at Pittodrie this evening.
Zelinka’s most recent assignment in Scotland was the pivotal Euro 2016 qualification win over Georgia last October, which saw Shaun Maloney bag the only goal of a fraught victory for Gordon Strachan’s boys.
He was the referee when St Johnstone registered their most famous result on the continent in recent seasons, drawing 1-1 with Norwegian outfit Rosenborg at McDiarmid Park in 2013.
The stalemate, secured thanks to an early Stevie May strike, saw Tommy Wright’s men progress 2-1 on aggregate against all odds.
And Zelinka was also the man in the middle in 2012 when Neil Lennon’s Hoops registered a comfortable 2-1 win over Helsinki in the Champions League qualification stage – going on to progress 4-1 over two legs.
Zelinka, who boasts experience in the Europa League group stage and Champions League, will be assisted by compatriots Ondrej Pelikan and Radek Kotik, with Emanuel Marek acting as fourth official at Pittodrie.