UEFA Champions League newcomers Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC raised eyebrows by winning the Israeli title last season and they must now conjure an arguably bigger surprise if they are to retrieve a 2-0 deficit against FC BATE Borisov as their play-off concludes at Ramat Gan Stadium.
• Two goals from Vitali Rodionov in Minsk on 22 August left BATE on the brink of securing a third UEFA Champions League participation in five years after previous appearances in 2008/09 and 2011/12.
• BATE have cause for confidence entering the second leg in Israel given they are unbeaten in 15 qualifying matches in both the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, dating back to a 3-2 defeat by FC København in the third qualifying round of the former competition in August 2010.
• In this season's qualifying phase, BATE have kept clean sheets in both of their away games at FK Vardar and Debreceni VSC and their last qualifying defeat by two clear goals – the minimum requirement for a Kiryat Shmona side who will be missing Dušan Matović, sent off in the first leg – came in 2007.
• Kiryat Shmona must repeat the home form they have shown en route to the play-offs. They beat MŠK Žilina 2-0 in the second qualifying round – bouncing back from a 1-0 first-leg defeat – and then overcame Neftçi PFK 4-0. Their progress has been impressive considering that this is only their second European campaign. The first, in 2008/09, comprised a 4-1 aggregate win against 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.
• Vasilyuk has additional experience of Israeli football having played nine league games on loan at Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC during the 2004/05 season, scoring one goal.
• 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 the 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.
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.