Finland or Kazakhstan. 1. FC Union Berlin immediately recognizes the dangers of the Conference League in the qualifiers.
From a sporting point of view, the door to the group stage of the European Cup on iron is wide open after the play-off draw with Kuopio PS or FK Astana as potential contenders. But logistically, the qualifying round will be a challenge for the Bundesliga club.
The first stop will either go to the Finnish football district on August 19 or, more likely and more difficult, through four time zones and several thousand kilometers by plane to Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Kazakhstan or Finland. One thing is for sure – it will be an adventure,” goalkeeper Andreas Luth tweeted after Monday’s draw at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, adding a muscular gesture to his contribution.
Coach Urs Fischer, managing director Oliver Rohnert and club president Dirk Zingler did not comment publicly after the draw. It was said that one wanted to wait and see who the opponent would be in the end. Where the Etihad trip will go between the first two matches of the Bundesliga season against Bayer Leverkusen (15 August) and at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (22 August) will be decided in the duel between Kuopio and Astana in the third qualifying round on August 5 and 12 August. Astana, who reached the group stage of the Champions League in 2015, are the favorites to face Kuopio.
The return leg is scheduled for August 26 in Berlin. This match will take place at Olympiastadion, as the stadium in Alte Försterei does not meet UEFA requirements for spectators. Immediately after qualifying for the European Cup in May, Zingler spoke in favor of moving to the much larger arena in the west of the capital so that as many Etihad fans as possible could watch the match in the stadium.
Berlin qualified for the new European Cup to be a surprising seventh in the Bundesliga. Max Kroes scored the decisive goal on the final day of the match in a 2-1 win over RB Leipzig before the final whistle. As the winners of the qualifiers, the capitals will move on to the group stage, which begins on September 16. The first conference tournament winner will be decided in the final on May 25, 2022 in the Albanian capital, Tirana.
Kuopio and Astana were among the lesser known lottery options. Feyenoord Rotterdam, KAA Gent or PAOK Saloniki were spared the Federation as potential enemies. Thanks to the betting system, it was already clear that Al Ittihad would not be able to face top teams such as AS Roma, Tottenham Hotspur or the former Fischer Club FC Basel until the group stage at the earliest.
For Union Berlin, this is the second participation in a European competition. In 2001, the Köpenickers team qualified for the DFB Cup Finals for the UEFA Cup. That was when the first trip was to Finland. Against Haka Valkeakoski Union he came in second place. The end came in the second round against Litex Lovech of Bulgaria.Homepage
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