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Sevilla FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC will meet in a mouthwatering UEFA Cup quarter-final which will have extra significance for Frédéric Kanouté.
The Malian striker spent two seasons at Tottenham before moving to Sevilla at the start of the 2005/06 campaign. It proved a highly productive first term in Andalusia as he played a major role in the club's UEFA Cup run, notably scoring in the 4-0 final defeat of Middlesbrough FC in Eindhoven. He will return to White Hart Lane for the second leg on 12 April, seven days after the north London team visit Seville for the sides' first UEFA meeting.
His coach Juande Ramos was not too pleased with the draw, calling Tottenham a "great team". He added: "We haven't been lucky at all. On top of that we will play the first leg at home. All English teams are hard and tricky competitors. It'll be tough but Sevilla can't be afraid of anyone. We have to get the best result we can at home and be totally focused."
As well as the Middlesbrough mauling, last year's campaign also saw Sevilla tackle another Premiership club in the group stage. In a one-off match - their only other pairing with English opposition - Sevilla drew 1-1 at Bolton Wanderers FC. In contrast, Tottenham have mixed memories of past Spanish encounters. Starting on a high, they became the first English team to lift a European trophy with a 5-1 victory against Club Atlético de Madrid in the 1962 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final in Rotterdam.
Since then they have twice been paired with Primera División outfits, and each time their opponents went on to claim the silverware. Tottenham took on FC Barcelona in the 1981/82 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup semi-finals and drew 1-1 at home before losing 1-0 at Camp Nou. Then, against Real Madrid CF in the 1984/85 UEFA Cup quarter-finals, the holders lost 1-0 at home and then drew 0-0 at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Nevertheless, Tottenham have a proud record to defend in the UEFA Cup. They have landed the prize twice, in 1972 and 1984, and are bidding to join Liverpool FC, Juventus and FC Internazionale Milano as the only sides to have secured a hat-trick of titles. Tottenham manager Martin Jol was well aware that Sevilla, who defeated FC Shakhtar Donetsk 5-4 on aggregate to advance in dramatic circumstances, are perhaps the toughest of the teams left in the hat but refused to be overawed.
"You have to beat the best to get to the final and there is no such thing as an easy draw at this stage," he said. "It is a good thing we are in the last eight and it is our fifth quarter-final [in all competitions] in three seasons so that is something to be proud of." Tottenham also had a thrilling Round of 16 engagement, eventually progressing with a 6-4 scoreline over two legs at the expense of SC Braga. Whoever gets through to play Bayer 04 Leverkusen or CA Osasuna is sure to provide plenty of entertainment.
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