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Sporting go back to the future

Published: Friday 30 August 2002, 20.30CET
uefa.com rounds up the reaction to the UEFA Cup first-round draw.
 
 
Published: Friday 30 August 2002, 20.30CET

Sporting go back to the future

uefa.com rounds up the reaction to the UEFA Cup first-round draw.

Sporting Clube de Portugal and FK Partizan were paired in the first round of the UEFA Cup in a tie that will rekindle memories of the sides' previous meetings in the European Champion Clubs' Cup.

Historic encounter
The Portuguese champions were beaten 8-5 on aggregate by Partizan in a 1955 first-round tie, and the Belgrade club won the sides' second meeting also, in 1961. Despite those defeats, Sporting's director of football, José Manuel Torcato, was already looking forward to the revival of this old rivalry.

'Most difficult game'
"I think it is probably the most interesting and most difficult game in the first round," he said. "But it is a good tie for us and a special occasion because we always remember that we played against Partizan in our first game in the Champions Cup, when we were invited to enter, in the 1950s. It is a long time ago, but we have not forgotten that memory."

Absolute beginners
If these were two of the oldest names in the today's draw in Monaco, for European newcomers AC Chievo Verona an equally intruguing tie awaits against another experienced Yugoslavian side, FK Crvena Zvezda, the 1991 European champions. Luca Campidelli, chairman of the Italian club, said: "It will be a difficult game, but for me it is an experience just to be here. It is like arriving in a very big airport and feeling a little lost. Everyone speaks in a foreign language and there is a lot of noise and action. But we are enjoying it and we hope to make some progress."

Scandinavian derby
While the Serie A side prepare for their first European adventure, Sweden's Djurgårdens IF FF can look forward to a Scandinavian derby against Danish side FC København as they embark on their first continental campaign since the 1970s. Bo Andersson, a Djurgarden director, told uefa.com: "I expect us to take 4-5,000 to Denmark for what should be two friendly games in front of big crowds. København are one of the best teams in Scandinavia, if not the best, so it is definitely a hard game for us. They are a professional side and we can beat them but we know how tough it will be."

Østergaard optimistic
Flemming Østergaard, København's coach, was optimistic about his side's prospects. "It is always interesting when two Nordic teams meet but we are happy with the system we will play and we are happy that we will not travel too far," he said. "We are playing quite well at the moment, in first place in the division, and we haven't lost for 13 matches - I think we will go the whole way this season."

'Comfortable' for Hapoel
Rafi Agiv, owner of Hapoel Tel-Aviv, felt his side's draw against FC Kärnten of Austria was "very comfortable". Hapoel beat Chelsea FC in the UEFA Cup last season and Agiv said: "I find the draw very comfortable because we have been paired [with a team] who are not of one of the strongest." He added: "We are happy that Maccabi Haifa, another Israeli club, are in the [UEFA] Champions League and we hope that we will do the same and go a long way in the competition. We had a lot of luck against Chelsea last season but that will not happen every season, all we can do is hope."

Blackburn 'glad to be back'
For Blackburn Rovers FC manager Graeme Souness, the visit to PFC CSKA Sofia will recall memories of Liverpool FC's meeting with the Bulgarian side in the European Cup in the early 1980s. The English club's chairman, Robert Corr said: "Everyone is really looking forward to the challenge - it is four years since we were last in the UEFA Cup, when we lost in the first round to Lyon, so it's nice to be back. We have a lot of players who have played in Europe and we're all looking forward to the experience."

London calling for Ivanisevic  
Former Wimbledon tennis champion Goran Ivanisevic represented HNK Hajduk Split at the draw, where the Croatian team were paired with England's Fulham FC, European debutants after their successful UEFA Intertoto Cup campaign. Ivanisevic said: "This is a great thing for the club and for me because I know Fulham so well."

 
Last updated: 18/09/02 17.14CET

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