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Kamil Kosowski will be an interested onlooker when two of his former clubs, Wisła Kraków and APOEL FC, meet in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off on Wednesday. "I rate both teams' chances as 50-50," he told UEFA.com.
Kosowski − who now plies his trade with Wisła's domestic rivals, GKS Bełchatów − played for the Polish team between 1999-2003 and again in 2007, winning the Ekstraklasa on three occasions. The experienced midfielder was also part of the APOEL squad which competed in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time in 2009/10, when they finished bottom of their section but twice held Club Atlético de Madrid and earned a 2-2 draw at Chelsea FC.
To play in the Champions League has always been Wisła's dream and they have never been as close as they are now," said Kosowski, 33. "But I must warn them that APOEL are also very determined."
To say Wisła are the nearly men of UEFA Champions League qualifying would not be overstating things, the Polish title holders having bowed out at the final hurdle before the group stage in each of their six previous campaigns. "The club has never realised its dream," said Kosowski, capped 52 times by Poland.
"Our opponents were very strong at that time; we played against Barcelona [in 2001/02] for example. Now the path is theoretically much easier, but APOEL have the same dream and at least an equal chance.
"The clubs are very similar," added Kosowski, who will be at the game as a TV pundit. "Wisła are the best in Poland and APOEL reign in Cyprus; they both have big histories and big ambitions. When Wisła were drawn against APOEL, I heard a lot of opinions in Poland that this was a very good draw, but I know from Cyprus that APOEL were also glad. Some time ago Cypriot football was underestimated, but many things have changed since then."
Integral to Wisła's run from the second qualifying round has been the form of Israel striker Maor Melikson, who scored three goals against PFC Litex Lovech last time out, while APOEL accounted for KS Skënderbeu and ŠK Slovan Bratislava without conceding. Defender Savvas Poursaitides has been ever-present for Ivan Jovanović's APOEL but will miss the game due to suspension along with midfielder Aldo Adorno, who has a hamstring problem.
"We have nothing else on our mind other than taking APOEL into the group stage," said striker Ivan Trickovski. "We have what it takes to go through and will give everything over the two legs. We are moving forward step by step and have done a good job so far. Now we face Wisła, difficult and strong opponents and one of the toughest sides we could have drawn, but we have done nothing but train for days now."
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