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Dinamo go back to the future

The UEFA Cup first qualifying round continues tonight with a previous European trophy winner in action.

Previous winner
After Hungary's Budapest Honvéd FC won 1-0 at MIKA FC in Armenia on Tuesday, another 27 countries - spanning the breadth of Europe from Iceland to Azerbaijan - are represented in tonight's matches. However, there is only one previous winner of a European trophy, FC Dinamo Tblisi, involved.

Bottom rung
The Georgians played under the Soviet flag when they captured the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1981, beating FC Carl Zeiss Jena 2-1 in the final in Dusseldorf. Now, more than two decades on, they are starting out on the bottom rung when they visit the Belarussian club FC BATE Borisov.

Serious business
While players from the continent's higher-profile leagues are still working their way back to full fitness, for the clubs in action tonight the serious business has begun already. Arguably the best quote in the build-up to these matches came from Saulius Širmelis, coach of Lithuanian side FK Ventspils.

His team face B68 Toftir in the Faroe Islands and Širmelis warned: "I hope none of my players are expecting the game to be easy. I remember how Rudi Völler and Germany came to the Faroe Islands smiling and how pale they were at the end of the match."

Heat is on
Elsewhere, Romanian club CF Otelul Galati's preparations for the visit of KS Dinamo Tirana were not helped by a brief players' strike. The Otelul squad refused to train for several days before receiving a promise that they would be paid money the club owed them. Meanwhile, it seems no amount of training can have fully prepared F.Y.R. Macedonia's FK Sloga Jugomagnat for the expected 40C heat they will face when they play Omonia AC in Cyprus. Of all the venues tonight, nowhere is likely to be as hot as this.

UEFA Cup first qualifying round ties, 15 July
Second legs to follow on 27 and 29 July
FK Sileks (MKD) v NK Maribor (SLO)
Marsaxlokk FC (MLT) v NK Primorje (SLO)
S.S. Pennarossa (SMR)v NK Željeznicar (BHZ)
FC Otelul Galati (ROM) v KS Dinamo Tirana (ALB)
FK Modrica (BHZ) v FC Santa Coloma (AND)
AC Omonia (CYP) v FK Sloga Jugomagnat (MKD)
FK Partizani (ALB) v Birkirkara FC (MLT)
FC Illychivets Mariupil (UKR) v FC Banants (ARM)
FC Tbilisi (GEO) v FK Shamkir (AZE)
FC BATE Borisov (BLR) v FC Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO)
FC Shirak (ARM) v FC Tiraspol (MOL)
FC Nistru Otaci (MOL) v FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk (BLR)
FK Dukla Banská Bystrica (SVK) v FK Karabakh (AZE)
FC Levadia Tallinn (EST) v Bohemian FC (IRL)
Haverfordwest County AFC (WAL) v FH Hafnarfjördur (ISL)
Östers IF (SWE) v Total Network Solutions FC (WAL)
Portadown FC (NIR) v FK Žalgiris Vilnius (LIT)
B68 Toftir (FAR) v FK Ventspils (LAT)
FC Haka (FIN) v FC Etzella Ettelbrück (LUX)
FK Ekranas (LIT) v F91 Dudelange (LUX)
FC Vaduz (LIE) v Longford Town FC (IRL)
B36 Tórshavn (FAR) v FHK Liepajas Metalurgs (LAT)
AC Allianssi (FIN) v Glentoran FC (NIR)
ÍA Akranes (ISL) v FC TVMK Tallinn (EST)