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UEFA Europa League Preview: Prestatyn looking to extend dream debut run

Prestatyn Town’s dream maiden European campaign will continue in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday.

Prestatyn qualified for continental competition for the first time in their history by winning the Welsh Cup in 2012-13, but were considered unlikely candidates to progress beyond the first round of qualification.

However, a shock win on penalties against SK Liepajas Metalurgs last week ensured their improbable journey would continue, with the club now preparing to meet Croatia’s Rijeka.

And player-manager Neil Gibson, who scored the the second of two late goals in Latvia that forced spot-kicks, admits he can hardly believe his side’s progress.

“I’ve just had a text five minutes ago from (Prestatyn defender) Dave Hayes asking me if it has sunk in yet,” he told Wales Online ahead of the first leg, which will played away from home.

“I still have to keep reminding myself what happened and keep asking myself ‘did we really do that’?”

Prestatyn are in esteemed company in the second round of qualifying, with several former European heavyweights also hoping to seal their place in the competition proper.

Swedish outfit Malmo, who once finished as runners-up in the European Cup, take on Hibernian of Scotland at home in the first leg of their tie on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Belgian giants Standard Liege, who equalled their best performance in Europe’s secondary competition by reaching the last eight in 2010, will face Iceland’s KR.

There are also a number other teams who recently featured in the UEFA Champions League taking part in its lesser counterpart this term.

Debrecen (Hungary), Maccabi Haifa (Israel), Rosenborg (Norway), and Rubin Kazan (Russia) meet Stromsgodset (Norway), Khazar Lankaran (Azerbaijan), St Johnstone (Scotland) and Jagodina (Serbia) respectively in the pick of those ties.

Tue 16 Jul, 2013
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