Clubs reflect on League Route draw

Unhappy AFC Ajax coach Martin Jol said FC Dynamo Kyiv were "the team we were most eager to avoid" in the League Route of the play-off draw. reviews the reaction.

Martin Jol's Ajax must overcome Dynamo to reach the group stage
Martin Jol's Ajax must overcome Dynamo to reach the group stage ©Getty Images

The draw for the UEFA Champions League play-offs resulted in some intriguing duels, not least in the League Route, where four-time European champions AFC Ajax meet group-stage regulars FC Dynamo Kyiv in one of five pairings. rounds up the reaction from the clubs involved in the ties which kick off on 17/18 August and conclude with the second legs a week later.

FC Dynamo Kyiv v AFC Ajax
Andriy Shevchenko, Dynamo striker

I did not have any preferences. There were no weak teams in the list of our five potential opponents. All the teams are equally strong, including Ajax. It will be not easy for us, that is for sure. Our task is to approach these game at the peak of our form and to play even better than before. I can't say much about their team at the moment. One thing I know is that they had tricky games in the previous round. However, all matches are different and they will do their best against us.

Martin Jol, Ajax coach
I had a feeling we were going to draw them and they are the team we were most eager to avoid. They are tough and have experience of playing in the Champions League, both in the past and recently. They have strengthened their team with expensive players too. For us this is the toughest possible draw but that's the way it is. Unfortunately we were not really lucky.

BSC Young Boys v Tottenham Hotspur FC
Vladimir Petković, Young Boys coach

Tottenham are very attractive and difficult opposition. We are the underdogs and are well aware of that. But we were against Fenerbahçe too, and here we are having got through away from home. We will try everything to go into the match in a relaxed mood and then see how far this attitude takes us. Matches against well-known clubs with a lot of fans are the most beautiful thing for every player and coach. It is important that we have at least qualified for the UEFA Europa League group stage.

Harry Redknapp, Tottenham manager
We'll be favourites but we have to give them the utmost respect. They beat Fenerbahçe in the last round and we watched the first leg on DVD and they could have won four or five. They then went away and won in Turkey and that's a fantastic result. We'll have to be prepared for it but we've Manchester City before that in the Premier League and that's the first priority. We'll get that one out of the way and then it will be into the Champions League and we've got to try and get into the group stage. That would be fantastic for the club.

SC Braga v Sevilla FC
Fernando Couto, Braga sporting director

We know them. We faced them in another competition [a 2-0 loss in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup group stage] and it wasn't in our favour. I hope this time things will go our way so we can overcome the difficult obstacle Sevilla present. They deserve all our respect, but we want to overcome them and be among the best.

Antonio Álvarez, Sevilla coach
I don't know how the players will feel or if they will be happy about the draw because I haven't seen them since it was made, but what I do know is that we have maximum respect for Braga because they are one of the best teams in Portugal, finishing second last season. Furthermore they have featured regularly in Europe recently and eliminated Celtic to get this far. I'll be happy if we manage to qualify but until then I'll be going over this one a lot in my head.

SV Werder Bremen v UC Sampdoria
Per Mertesacker, Bremen defender

Of course it will not be an easy task. When a team finishes fourth in Italy, ahead of Juventus, that says it all. This will be a very tight affair. Having to play at home first and then play the decisive game away is something we have already done, against Dinamo Zagreb [in the 2007/08 third qualifying round]. Then it was exciting as well. Anything other than a top performance would be unacceptable.

Domenico Di Carlo, Sampdoria coach
Our reaction to the draw is positive, but it would have been the same for any other opponent. It will be our job to be fully ready for the task. With our organisation, the right mentality and the typical Sampdoria spirit, we can beat an important team like Werder Bremen. They play attacking football; attacking is their main strength. In this sense we are quite similar because we are as good as them in attack. It will be a great contest for 180 minutes and I'm happy to play the return leg at home. We will have to go into both games with absolute commitment.

FC Zenit St. Petersburg v AJ Auxerre
Viktor Fayzulin, Zenit midfielder

We got a team similar to ourselves, one that finished third in their domestic league. It's not the the weakest, but also not the strongest opposition we could have got. It's better to face Auxerre than Dynamo Kyiv. I haven't seen them play at all, but I've heard a lot about their head coach Jean Fernandez.

Jean Fernandez, Auxerre coach
Zenit are the worst draw. They are at full steam in their league and undefeated after 15 games. They are a big side, league leaders who just signed Bruno Alves. On the upside, we will play the return on home turf. It will be very tricky. I know Russian football rather well having been knocked out of Europe before by Zenit with Marseille [in March 2006].