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UEFA Cup under starters orders

Odense BK and FK Partizan will be looking to make it all the way to the group stage again as the 37 UEFA Cup first qualifying round ties kick off on Thursday.

Odense BK and FK Partizan will be looking to make it all the way to the group stage again as the 2007/08 UEFA Cup first qualifying round kicks off on Thursday.

Group stage
Danish contenders OB and Serbian giants Partizan both battled their way through to the group stage from the qualifying phase of the competition last season, and will be hoping to do at least as well again as they start their latest European challenge in the first of two qualifying rounds. OB kick off in Dublin against Saint Patrick's Athletic FC while Partizan are at NK Zrinjski.

Yugoslavian rivals
That meeting between Serbian and Bosnia-Herzegovnian sides is not the only significant contest between rivals from the former Yugoslavia on Thursday, with FK Buducnost Podgorica preparing to welcome Croatia's HNK Hajduk Split to the capital of the newly-independent Montenegro for the first time in 16 years in the first leg of their tie.

Litex ambition
A coach from the former Yugoslavia, Ljupko Petrović, led Bulgaria's PFC Litex Lovech to the last 32 of the 2005/06 UEFA Cup but failed to get beyond the first round in 2006/07. It remains to be seen whether his replacement Ferario Spasov will be able to get back to the group stage as Litex start their campaign in Malta against Sliema Wanderers FC.

Golden achievement
Meanwhile, FC Vaduz are preparing to be Liechtenstein's sole representatives in Europe for the tenth season in succession as they take on FC Dinamo Tbilisi. UEFA Cup Winners' Cup winners in 1980/81, the Georgian side are the only team involved in the first qualifying round to have won a major European trophy. All but one of the second leg ties will be played on 2 August, with Lillestrøm SK's tie against UN Käerjéng of Luxembourg concluding on 31 July.