Hungarian First Division side Ferencvárosi TC were the biggest attraction in the UEFA Cup first qualifying round draw in Nyon, having contested two finals of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, the forerunner to the UEFA Cup. However, the 1965 winners were left concerned after being paired with FC MTZ-RIPO Minsk of Belarus, as uefa.com samples the reaction to the draw.
Ferencváros sporting director Ignác Tepszics said of his side's trip to Eastern Europe: "We're not lucky as we got an opponent from Belarus which could be difficult. Certainly our only possible aim is to win and qualify." Assistant coach László Vass concurred: "Teams from the former Soviet Union play very aggressive and quick football. We also have to start at home which is not the best. However, we will collect some information about MTZ and concentrate on qualification."
Their opponents are also anticipating a tough contest, with MTZ-RIPO coach Yuri Puntus commenting: "In our view we have been drawn against one of the two strongest sides. They will be favourites, however our league is in full swing while they are in pre-season training."
UEFA Fair Play winners Esbjerg fB from Denmark begin their campaign against Estonian outfit FC Flora, with coach Ove Pedersen remaining cautious about their chances. "This was one of the strongest opponents we could get among the unseeded teams. I'd have preferred to start away in order to create a good position for the second leg at home, nevertheless we should be able to solve the task."
Fellow Fair Play entrants 1. FSV Mainz 05 are just thankful to be in the competition, as they take on FC MIKA. "Armenia is a new destination for us," said general manager Christian Heidel. "We are looking forward to the game but I must admit we're just happy to be in the competition. It's almost inconceivable for us because a few years ago we were fighting relegation in the 2. Bundesliga."
Linfield FC chairman David Crawford hopes to emulate Shelbourne FC from the Republic of Ireland when the Northern Irish side take on Latvia's FK Ventspils. "We've never played there but we're looking forward to it and the fact the first game is at home helps. We haven't qualified for some time, we've kept trying every year and we'd like to do similar to Shelbourne [reaching the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round] last year because that's where the money is."
Meanwhile, Ventspils interim coach Igors Stepanovs sees the tie as a must-win affair. "We know very little about Linfield, it is an unknown territory for us. Obviously they will play a British-style of football, but we will need to investigate their style properly if we are to advance."
Elsewhere, FC Vaduz general manager Axel Bernhardt hopes the meeting with Moldovan team FC Dacia Chisinau will lift the Liechtenstein club's players after they missed out on promotion to Switzerland's top flight. "The mood was obviously very down when we just missed promotion, but we are opening our eyes again, looking to the future and playing in Europe means we are able to attract more people to our matches. The players have started training and getting up for the game."
In Latvia, FHK Liepajas Metalurgs forward Aleksandr Katasonov hopes a similar result awaits in the Faroe Islands against NSÍ Runavík, after last year's 11-2 aggregate win against B36 Tórshavn at the same stage. "I remember last year's match because I scored four goals. We may not have been lucky in terms of travelling and seeing new countries, but it's a good draw. We need to be in the next round."
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