Cork City get 'toughest draw' as Champions League first and second round qualifiers revealed

By Stephen Barry

Latest: Cork City's potential Champions League second qualifying round opponents have been revealed.

Should City beat Poland's Legia Warsaw in the first qualifying round, they will face either FC Spartak Trnava (Slovakia) or HSK Zrinjski (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

If Northern Ireland champions Crusaders shock Ludogorets Razgrad, they'll meet either F91 Dudelange (Luxembourg) or Videoton (Hungary).

While if Celtic progress against Alashkert, they could face a repeat of last year's clash with Rosenborg (Norway) or a game against Valur (Iceland).

Original story (11.21am): Cork City will face Legia Warsaw in the Champions League first qualifying round.

Embarking on their first Champions League campaign in 12 years, City are due to host the Polish champions in the first leg on July 10/11 before travelling to Warsaw for the return encounter the following week (July 17/18).

City and Legia were in luck in a later draw. The losers of the tie will receive a bye to the third qualifying round of the Europa League.

The rest of the first-round losers will enter the second round of the Europa League qualifiers in a new champions path.

That means Cork are guaranteed extra prize money and a boost in UEFA club coefficient, which will be used for seeding future draws.

"When you look at the seeding, we probably got the toughest draw that was there," City manager John Caulfield told RedFM.

"There certainly were other teams there that could've given us a stronger possibility of getting through. This is the toughest draw but we'll look forward to it. That's what being in the Champions League is all about."

Defenders Michał Pazdan and Artur Jędrzejczyk are in the Polish World Cup squad, which will face Senegal at 4pm today.

Legia last qualified for the group stages in 2016, after defeating Dundalk in the final qualifying round by 3-1 on aggregate.

They managed a memorable 3-3 draw with eventual champions Real Madrid that year.

Legia also beat St Patrick’s Athletic 6-1 in the 2014 qualifiers.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland champions Crusaders will face Ludogorets Razgrad, the highest-ranked team in the draw.

The seven-in-a-row Bulgarian league winners, who qualified for the group stages in 2014 and 2016, playing Liverpool and Arsenal along the way, will host the first leg.

Scottish champions Celtic will travel to Armenia for their first leg against Alashkert, before the return leg in Glasgow.


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