The domestic cup is about to take centre stage again in Andorra with the first preliminary round of the 2009 Copa Constitució scheduled to get under way on 18 January.
Along with the prestige that comes with lifting the trophy, the winners of May's showpiece will be earn a place in next season's new-look UEFA Europa League first qualifying round. For clubs big and small in Andorran football alike, the cup represents an opportunity to put league matters aside momentarily and dream of giant-killing exploits against the likes of holders UE Santa Julià or league champions FC Santa Coloma.
The opening elimination round will be contested between the best-placed sides in the second division, discounting FC Encamp who automatically advance to the second round as divisional leaders at the season's halfway point. The winners of those ties go on to meet one of the four teams who finished the first half of the season in the bottom four places of the Primera Divisió, namely UE Engordany, six-time cup winners CE Principat, Inter Escaldes and FC Ranger's. All those fixtures, and the final, will be one-off games while in the third round and semi-finals two legs will be required to decide the winners of each tie.
'Full of hope'
Engordany president Gonzalo Donsión is hoping his club can enjoy a successful cup campaign to make up for a disappointing first half in the league, saying: "It's a competition in which everyone starts from zero so everyone is motivated and full of hope from the outset. What's more, if you have a little luck on your side and manage to go far, the possibility of playing in European competition opens up. The prospect of being able to compete against teams from all over the continent without necessarily having had the best of seasons is a big prize. Because of that we've reinforced our squad considerably after a bad start to the league; we've made eight signings during the winter break."
FC Santa Coloma coach Vincent Marqués echoed Donsión's sentiments when he spoke of the possibilities that winning the cup offered. "The Copa Constitució is a very attractive tournament because it comes with the prize of a chance to compete in the UEFA Europa League," he said. "For our team, the competition offers the chance to get something out of the season and that's positive."
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