Over the next few weeks, we’re bringing you a preview of some of the teams that The New Saints can face in the Champions League first qualifying round, ahead of the draw on the 19th of June, writes Sam Wood.
Last week we brought you the first four clubs in our round-up, and with the draw for the first qualifying round taking place exactly a month today, we have part two of our preview ready for you.
Here are the next four teams that TNS could be visiting:
Country: Republic of Ireland
Stadium (capacity): Turners Cross Stadium (7,485)
Best European result: 2-1 vs Apollon Limassol [2006-2007 Champions League 1st qualifying round]
Of the four Champions League ties that Cork City have been involved in, the Irish side has won two. Their first win came all the way back in the 1993-1994 season. In the preliminary round, Cork defeated another Welsh opponent, Cwmbran Town, advancing on away goals following a 2-1 home win and a 3-2 away defeat.
But, after losing in the 1st qualifying round to Galatasaray, they had to wait 13 years for another shot at the Champions League. A fantastic 1-1 away draw, following a 1-0 home win against Cypriot champions Apollon Limassol saw them reach the 2nd qualifying round in 2006-2007, but just like before, the Rebel Army were eliminated in round 2 by Red Star Belgrade.
This season will be their first Champions League appearance since.
Stadium: Sūduva Stadium (6,500)
Best European result: 4-1 vs FC Sion [2017-2018 Europa League 3rd qualifying round]
FK Sūduva Marijampolė beat The New Saints in the 1st qualifying round of the 2008-2009 UEFA Cup. 1-0 wins both home and away saw the Lithuanians advance. The Saints aren’t the only Welsh club they’ve beaten though. Two years prior to that, Sūduva defeated Rhyl 2-1 in the same round of the same competition.
A remarkable run in last season’s Europa League saw them win three qualifying rounds, before falling short at the play-off hurdle, so they’re definitely a dangerous outfit, and one that the Saints should possibly hope to avoid.
Stadium: Stadion Kraj Bistrice (5,214)
Best European result: 4-1 vs Union Luxembourg [2003 Intertoto Cup first round] *representing Serbia and Montenegro
FK Sutjeska make their return to the Champions League for the first time since 2014-2015. Ironically, in their two prior appearances in the competition, the aforementioned 2014-2015, and the year prior, they were drawn against Moldova’s Sheriff Tiraspol on both occasions. Sheriff showed their class, running out 6-1 aggregate winners in 2013 and 5-0 in 2014.
Sutjeska have only advanced in one of their seven European ties. That was in the Intertoto Cup in 2003, as they defeated Union Luxembourg 4-1 on aggregate, although that win came while representing Serbia and Montenegro, as the latter didn’t gain independence until 2006.
Country: Northern Ireland
Stadium: Seaview (3,383)
Best European result: 1-1 (advanced on away goals) vs Levadia Tallinn [2015-2016 Champions League 1st qualifying round]
Crusaders have had what can only be described as a torrid time in European competitions. It took them 14 attempts to record their first win, beating Lithuania’s FK Ekranas 5-2 in the 1st qualifying round of the 2014-2015 Europa League. Prior to that, they’d suffered heavy defeats to the likes of Valencia (8-2), Dinamo Bucharest (12-0) and Liverpool (7-0).
Their only advancement in the Champions League came in 2015, when they defeated Levadia Tallinn on away goals following a 1-1 away draw.
Once again, make sure you visit our website next Saturday to find out more, and if you haven’t already, be sure to check out part one which was published last weekend.