Surprise winners of the Israeli title last season, Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC are one step away from taking their fairy tale on to the UEFA Champions League stage, but to get there they will need to produce another upset against FC BATE Borisov.
• BATE, the champions of Belarus for the last six seasons, start this play-off tie as favourites given a growing European pedigree that includes two prior appearances in the UEFA Champions League group stage – in 2008/09 and 2011/12.
• BATE will enter the first leg eager to avoid another slow start to a home match given they needed late goals to rescue themselves in their two previous qualifying fixtures, both played at the Gorodskoi Stadion.
• Vitali Rodionov's two added-time goals earned a dramatic 3-2 comeback win against FK Vardar in the first leg of BATE's second qualifying round tie, and it then took a 93rd-minute own goal to earn them a 1-1 draw against Debreceni VSC in the third qualifying round – a tie they eventually won 3-1 on aggregate.
• Kiryat Shmona set up their visit to the Dinamo Stadion by beating MŠK Žilina 2-1 on aggregate in the second qualifying round and then Neftçi PFK 6-2 on aggregate. Their progress is all the more commendable considering that this is only their second European campaign – the first, in 2008/09, comprised a 4-1 aggregate win over FK Mogren in the UEFA Cup first qualifying round, and subsequent 2-1 aggregate loss to PFC Litex Lovech.
• Gil Landau's men are bidding to follow in the footsteps of Maccabi Haifa FC, Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC and Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC and become the fourth Israeli club to compete in the group stage.
• Israel and Belarus have never played a competitive fixture at full international level but they have met in friendlies and in August 2007, BATE's Roman Vasilyuk scored the opening goal in a 2-1 win for Belarus over Israel in Minsk.
• At Under-21 level, Daniel Amos kept a clean sheet when Israel U21s beat a Belarus side including BATE's Maksim Bordachev, Aleksandr Volodko and Filipp Rudik in a friendly at Ramat Gan Stadium in August 2008.
• BATE coach Viktor Goncharenko tasted defeat in an earlier U21 friendly with Belarus in Israel – a 6-3 reverse featuring two goals from Yossi Benayoun.
• Kiryat Shmona's Darko Tasevski appeared as a substitute for PFC Levski Sofia in a 1-0 home loss to BATE in their first leg of the Bulgarian team's UEFA Champions League third qualifying round defeat in 2008/09.
• In the most recent competitive encounter between clubs from Belarus and Israel, FC Dinamo Minsk defeated Maccabi Haifa 3-2 on aggregate in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League third qualifying round.
• En route to becoming Israel's first participants in the UEFA Champions League group stage in 2002/03, Maccabi Haifa overcame Belarus's FC Belshina Bobruisk 5-0 on aggregate in the second qualifying round. Twelve months previously, Maccabi had beaten FC Slavia Mozyr on away goals in the UEFA Cup qualifying round.
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