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UEFA Champions League Preview: Hopefuls begin European campaign

Just four teams are in action when the first round of qualification for the UEFA Champions League begins on Tuesday.

An unfancied quartet will go head-to-head as they bid to come through the first of three two-legged qualifying rounds that would see them into the group stages of Europe’s premier cup competition.

First up, Armenian Premier League champions Shirak host their Sammarinese counterparts Tre Penne at the Gyumri City Stadium.

Shirak won the Armenian title by nine points ahead of Mika last term and will be strong favourites against Stefano Ceci’s men, who lifted the Campionato Sammarinese di Calcio by beating Libertas in the play-off final.

Ismael Beko Fofana will shoulder the hosts’ goalscoring hopes, with the 23-year-old Ivorian having netted on 14 occasions in 2012-13, and he will aim to lead his team to a second qualifying round meeting with Serbian champions Partizan Belgrade.

Elsewhere, Lusitanos, reigning champions of an Andorran league ranked 53rd out of 53 nations by UEFA, take on Faroe Islands outfit EB/Streymur.

Lusitanos, who sealed the second league title in their 14-year history last season, are recognisable due to the similarities between their badge and that of the Portuguese national team.

They also boast a Portuguese manager, several players from the Iberian nation and a legion of fans who have immigrated over to Andorra.

By contrast, their Faroese opponents’ entire squad and coaching team is made up of people originally from the Danish archipelago.

The teams are competing for a second-round clash with Georgian champions Dinamo Tbilisi.

Sun 30 Jun, 2013
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