Redknapp refusing to take Swiss side for granted

HARRY REDKNAPP was yesterday taking nothing for granted after Tottenham were handed the easiest possible route to the Champions League proper.

Spurs’ first European Cup match for almost half a century will be against Swiss side Young Boys following yesterday’s play-off round draw in Nyon.

The two-leg tie was a dream pairing for Redknapp’s side, who avoided much trickier clashes with the likes of Dynamo Kiev, Sampdoria, Auxerre and Braga.

But the Tottenham boss insisted reaching the competition’s lucrative group stage was not a foregone conclusion, with Young Boys having stunned Fenerbahce in the previous round.

“We’ll be favourites, obviously, but we have to give them the utmost respect,” Redknapp said.

“They beat Fenerbahce in the last round and we watched the first leg on DVD and they could have won four or five; they hammered them at home.

“They then went away and won in Turkey and that’s a fantastic result. It will be a tough game for us.

“We’ll have to be prepared for it but we’ve got Manchester City before that in the Premier League (August 14) and that’s the first priority.

“We’ll get that one out of the way and then it will be into the Champions League and we’ve got to try and get into the group stages; that would be fantastic for the club.”

Redknapp’s caution was echoed by club secretary Darren Eales, who nevertheless admitted he was pleased to have avoided a trip to Kiev.

Eales said: “In that respect, we’re going to Switzerland; it’s not so far to travel. That’s obviously a positive.

“I think the other thing that we’ll be pleased about is that we’re playing at home second leg – that’s always an advantage.”

Eales revealed reaching the group stage was unlikely to result in a larger transfer kitty for Redknapp and refused to comment on speculation linking several big names with moves to Spurs.

He added: “We’ll be doing our best to get some transfer activity but we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Tottenham’s last foray in Europe’s premier club competition came in the 1961-62 season. Last term saw them finally fulfil their ambition of breaking into the Barclays Premier League top four, thereby securing a coveted Champions League spot.

Spurs have never played Swiss runners-up Young Boys, who are well into their domestic season, which kicked off on July 17, although they have failed to win any of their opening three games.

Tottenham’s only previous European meeting with Swiss opposition ended in a 9-1 aggregate win over Grasshoppers in the 1973-74 UEFA Cup.

Young Boys sporting director Alain Baumann admitted his side had been handed the toughest possible draw.

“We are happy to play Tottenham,” he said. “For Young Boys, it’s a good draw but the hardest. For the spectacle, it’s the best.’’

Meanwhile Liverpool drew Turkish side Trabzonspor in the Europa League play-off round. Roy Hodgson’s side will meet the club based in Trabzon, who have won the Turkish league six times, on August 19 and 26.

The play-off is the final hurdle before qualifying for the group stage, with yesterday’s draw involving 74 clubs.

Manchester City will take on Romanian side FC Timisoara, while Aston Villa will face Austrian outfit Rapid Vienna.

Italian giants Juventus also have Austrian opposition as they take on Sturm Graz while Palermo will begin at home to Maribor and Napoli face Elfsborg.

Champions League play-off round: Salzburg v Hapoel Tel-Aviv; Rosenborg v FC Copenhagen; Basle v FC Sheriff; Sparta Prague v MSK Zilina; Partizan Belgrade v Anderlecht; Young Boys v Tottenham; Braga v Sevilla; Werder Bremen v Sampdoria; Zenit St v Petersburg v Auxerre; Dynamo Kiev v Ajax (Ties to be played August 17/18 and 24/25.

Europa League play-off draw: PSG v Maccabi Tel Aviv; Bayer Leverkusen v Tavria Simferopol; CSKA Moscow v Anorthosis Famagusta; Hajduk Split v Unirea Urziceni; Feyenoord v Ghent; Racing Genk v Porto; Debrecen v Litex Lovech; Aris Saloniki v Austria Vienna; Galatasaray v Karpaty Lviv; Palermo v Maribor; Club Bruges v Dinamo Minsk; Omonia v Metalist Kharkiv; Vaslui v Lille; Napoli v Elfsborg Boras; Sporting v Brondby; Grasshoppers v Steaua Bucharest; Liverpool v Trabzonspor; Celtic v Utrecht; Borussia Dortmund v Garabagh Agdam; AIK Stockholm v Levski Sofia; Sturm Graz v Juventus; Getafe v APOEL Nicosia; Dundee Utd v AEK Athens; AZ Alkmaar v FK Atyrau; Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk v Lech Poznan; Rapid Vienna v Aston Villa; CSKA Sofia v The New Saints; Besiktas v HJK Helsinki; Slovan Bratislava v VfB Stuttgart; Sibir Novosibirsk v PSV Eindhoven; BATE Borisov v Maritimo; Luzern v Lokomotiv Moscow; Gyor ETO v Dinamo Zagreb; OB Odense v Motherwell; PAOK Salonika v Fenerbahce; Villarreal v Dnepr Mogilev; FC Timisoara v Manchester City.

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