Akhisar claimed an unexpected Turkish Cup triumph in 2017/18 and now take on Russia's Krasnodar on their European debut.
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History beckons for Akhisar as the surprise 2017/18 Turkish Cup winners make their debut in European competition on matchday one of the 2018/19 UEFA Europa League, with Russian side Krasnodar their first opponents.
• Krasnodar's only previous experience of Turkish opposition is a positive one as they overcame Fenerbahçe 2-1 on aggregate (1-0 home, 1-1 away) in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League round of 32, the club's first win in a knockout phase encounter. Swedish international Viktor Claesson scored the first-leg winner with his first touch for Krasnodar on his club debut.
• Akhisar qualified for their first European campaign – and an automatic place in the UEFA Europa League group stage – with a shock 3-2 win over Fenerbahçe in the 2018 Turkish Cup final. They finished 11th in the league – nine places and 30 points behind their illustrious Istanbul opponents.
• Krasnodar are relatively new to European football themselves, but since making their debut in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League they have qualified for the competition every season since, only failing to make the group stage in 2017/18, when they lost a play-off to Crvena zvezda on away goals. Fourth place in last season's Russian Premier League secured their group stage berth this term.
• Krasnodar were unable to progress from their group at the first attempt, in 2014/15, but succeeded in both of the following two seasons, lasting until the round of 32 in 2015/16 and the round of 16 in 2016/17 thanks to that landmark victory over Fenerbahçe.
• The Russian club have won one of their three away fixtures in each of their UEFA Europa League group campaigns – against Everton (1-0) in 2014/15, Gabala (3-0) in 2015/16 and Salzburg (1-0) in 2016/17. Their overall away record in the competition, excluding qualifying, is W3 D3 L6.
Links and trivia
• Akhisar's Yevhen Seleznyov and Charles Kaboré of Krasnodar have both played for Krasnodar's city rivals Kuban.
• Akhisar goalkeeper Milan Lukač and Krasnodar defender Uroš Spajić are fellow Serbian internationals.
• The Turkish club are one of five making their debut this season in the UEFA Europa League proper, along with Dudelange, Jablonec, Sarpsborg and Spartak Trnava.
• Akhisar parted company with coach Safet Sušić at the start of this week; he had been appointed in the summer, replacing Turkish Cup-winning boss Okan Buruk.
• An FC Krasnodar man through and through, Murad Musaev made waves by leading the club's Under-19s to the knockout phase of the 2017/18 UEFA Youth League, where they were only eliminated on penalties by Real Madrid in front of a competition record crowd. That achievement helped him land the position of caretaker coach to the senior side following Igor Shalimov's dismissal in early April 2018. His position as the club's new head coach was subsequently confirmed during the summer.