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Tough start for Anderlecht

RSC Anderlecht must overcome AFC Rapid Bucuresti to reach the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round.

RSC Anderlecht will have to overcome Romanian champions AFC Rapid Bucuresti for a place in the third qualifying round after today's UEFA Champions League draws.

Following Milan
In all, 38 teams were involved in the first and second qualifying round draws at UEFA's headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, little more than three weeks after AC Milan were crowned Champions League winners in Manchester.

Ten winners
Twenty teams were in the hat for the first qualifying round matches which include Armenia's best side FC Pyunik against KR Reykjavík, the Icelandic title-holders, and FC Dinamo Tbilisi of Georgia, the 1981 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup champions, taking on KF Tirana, Albania's top team. The ten winners of these ties will then join 18 sides in the 14 second qualifying round fixtures.

'Serious level'
Belgian runners-up Anderlecht are aware of the challenge facing them. Speaking to uefa.com, the club's general manager Michel Verschueren said: "The match will be at a very serious level. Our main goal is to get to the group stage. We were a bit disappointed to draw such a difficult opponent, but we will try and do our best to qualify."

Tough for Partizan
Three other second qualifying round ties are already known. One of them will see Croatia's NK Dinamo Zagreb taking on Slovenia's NK Maribor. The tie promises to be a close contest between two champions from neighbouring countries. Dinamo director Damir Vrbanovic said: "These are going to be two very good matches. We are old friends. We have played many times before." Maribor general secretary Uros Jurisic was also looking forward to the tie, adding: "This is a very fortunate fixture because in terms of travelling costs it is low."

Celtic to wait
The other two ties decided are Slovakia's MŠK Zilina against Israel's Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC and FK Partizan of Serbia and Montenegro up against Sweden's Djurgårdens IF. The 2002/03 UEFA Cup runners-up Celtic FC, the only former European champions in today's draws, will play the winners of the match between HB Tórshavn and FBK Kaunas.

Two-legged ties
All matches will be played over two legs. The first qualifying round will be played on 16 and 23 July and the second qualifying round on 30 July and 6 August.  

UEFA Champions League first qualifying round draw
First-leg matches: 16 July
Second-leg matches: 23 July
1FC Pyunik (ARM) v KR Reykjavík (ISL)
2FC Sheriff (MOL) v FC Flora (EST)
3HB Tórshavn (FAR) v FBK Kaunas (LIT)
4FC BATE Borisov (BLS) v Bohemian FC (IRL)
5FK Vardar (MKD) v Barry Town AFC (WAL)
6CS Grevenmacher (LUX) v FK Leotar (BHZ)
7HJK Helsinki (FIN) v Glentoran FC (NIR)
8Sliema Wanderers FC (MLT) v FC Skonto (LAT)
9Omonia AC (CYP) v FC Irtysh Pavlodar (KAZ)
10FC Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v KF Tirana (ALB) 

UEFA Champions League second qualifying round draw
First-leg matches: 30 July 2003
Second-leg matches: 6 August 2003
MTK Hungária FC (HUN) v Winners match 7
Winners match 1 v PFC CSKA Sofia (BUL)
Winners match 3 v Celtic FC (SCO)
Winners match 6 v SK Slavia Praha (CZE)
Winners match 2 v FC Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
MŠK Žilina (SVK) v Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC (ISR)
Winners match 4 v Rosenborg BK (NOR)
NK Maribor (SLO) v NK Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)
PFC CSKA Moskva (RUS) v Winners match 5
AFC Rapid Bucuresti (ROM) v RSC Anderlecht (BEL)
FK Partizan (YUG) v Djurgårdens IF (SWE)
Wisla Kraków (POL) v Winners match 9
CH (DEN)* v Winners match 8
Winners match 10 v Grazer AK (AUT)

*The championship in Denmark will be decided on Sunday.