ASTANA – Four Kazakh clubs have entered another qualification campaign to reach the Union of European Football Associations Champions League and the Europa League. Last week, the teams learnt their opponents following the draw in Nyon, Switzerland.
In 2015, FC Astana made history by becoming the nation’s first club to reach the UEFA Champions League’s group stage where they managed two draws with Galatasaray Istanbul and two more in home matches against the tournament’s eventual quarterfinalists Benfica Lisbon and runners-up Atletico Madrid.
The new European season for the Kazakh champions will open in Lithuania where in the second qualifying round, they will play Zalgiris Vilnius. The qualifying round’s first matches will be held July 12-13, and during the return leg on July 19-20.
“In the Champions League there are no weak teams. Our pair also has no underdogs. For us, it is important to show our game and bring players in peak shape for the European challenges,” commented on the results of the draw FC Astana’s Manager, Bulgarian specialist Stanimir Stoilov.
Three other clubs, FC Kairat Almaty, FC Ordabasy Shymkent, and FC Aktobe will start in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League. As a result of the draw, Kairat will now play Albanian KF Teuta Durress, while FC Aktobe face the challenge from Serbian MTK Budapest and FC Ordabasy will play FC Čukarički from Serbia.
Fans look forwards to a successful performance by Kairat, which last year stopped just a step away from joining the group stage of the Europa League.
FC Kairat’s manager Kakhaber Tskhadadze believes that his team has a good chance to pass to the next round.
“Our analysts have already started working on gathering as much information as possible to prepare for a challenge from our opponents. Albanian football is very combative, as players always play with passion, which is the case for both the national team and individual clubs. They move forward in football terms, [which is why] their national team played in EURO 2016. Of course, [Teuta] will be no different: they are a serious contender. However, we will get ready and we must move past the first round,” said Tskhadadze.