Cyprus Mail

Cypriots learn Europa fate, Spurs and Swansea happy

CYPRUS champions APOEL will play SV Zulte Waregem of Belgium, while Cup winners Apollon Limassol take on French side Nice, following the Europa League play-off draw in Switzerland on Friday.
Tottenham will begin their campaign against Dinamo Tbilisi. Andre Villas-Boas’ side, who reached the quarter-finals last season, were paired with the Georgians in the draw at UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon.
Capital One Cup winners Swansea, who reached this stage with a 4-0 aggregate win over Swedish club Malmo in qualifying, will face Romanian side Petrolul Ploiesti.
Both Premier League clubs should find themselves happy with the draw.
Nicosia giants APOEL have met Belgian opposition twice before in Europe but failed to advance on both occasions.
In the first round of the 1969-70 Cup Winners’ Cup they lost to Lierse SK 11-1 on aggregate with both legs played in Belgium, while in 2000-01 they were eliminated by Club Brugge in the first round of the UEFA Cup after losing the first leg in Nicosia 1-0 and the return leg 2-0.
This year’s opponents Zulte finished last season as runners-up, four points behind champions Anderlecht, but they failed to reach the Champions League play-off after a 5-0 aggregate loss to Dutch outfit PSV Eindhoven.
Apollon, on the other hand, do not have too much European experience and have never faced a team from France in their 14 European campaigns so far.
Nice ended last season fourth overall in Ligue 1 and went directly to the play-off round of the Europa qualifiers.
The ties will be played over two legs on August 22 and 29. The winners will join the ten losing sides from the Champions League play-offs in the group stage, beginning in September. The group stage draw will take place in Monaco on Friday, August 30.
As for Tottenham, the North Londoners posed a sustained challenge in the competition eventually won by Chelsea last season, bowing out on penalties to Swiss side Basle in the last eight.
They had high hopes of qualifiying for the Champions League this time but finished fifth in the Premier League, a point behind fourth-placed Arsenal, to find themselves in Europe’s second-tier event again.
Swansea are returning to European competition for the first time since 1991 and have already shown appetite with their destruction of Malmo. All four of their goals came in the first leg of the third-round qualifier at the Liberty Stadium.
Spurs were drawn away for the first leg of their tie against the Georgian double winners with Swansea initially hosting Ploiesti, although that could be subject to change.
Swansea and Spurs open their Premier League campaigns against Manchester United and Crystal Palace respectively on the weekend of August 17-18 and face each other the following week.
Victories for both sides in their Europa play-offs would earn them a place in the group stage alongside FA Cup winners Wigan.

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