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Maribor
Maribor’s possible opponents at the draw in Nyon were Dundalk (Ireland), Vardar (Macedonia). Zrinjski (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Mariehamn (Finland) or one of the winners of the first qualifying rounds. Foto: www.alesfevzer.com

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Maribor to face Zrinjski one again; Olimpija is Finland-bound

Domžale set to face off against Estonians, Gorica will play against Armenians
19. June 2017 ob 21:20
Nyon - MMC RTV SLO

A draw has decided that Maribor will play against Zrinjski, the champion of Bosnia-Herzegovina, in the second qualifying rounds of the Champions League.

The first leg will take place on July 11 or 12 in Mostar, while the return leg will take place on July 18 or 19 at Maribor’s Ljudski Vrt stadium.

Three years ago, the two teams faced each other in the same phase of the competition. Back then, the first leg in Mostar ended without goals, while the return leg in Maribor concluded with 2:0 for the home team. Dare Vršič and Agim Ibraimi were the scorers.

Zrinjski became the Bosnian national champion in the final round by defeating Sloboda 3:0. The team had just a single-point advantage over second-place Željezničar. The team from the Croatian part of Mostar also played in last year’s Champions League qualification, where it was knocked out by Legija of Poland with a combined result of 1:3. The Mostar leg ended with a score of 1:1, while the return leg in Warsaw concluded with 0:2.

Maribor’s possible opponents at the draw in Nyon were Dundalk (Ireland), Vardar (Macedonia). Zrinjski (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Mariehamn (Finland) or one of the winners of the first qualifying rounds.

Zahovič: Maribor will not allow any surprises
“This is a tough draw. Teams from our former homeland always have excellent players. I have pleasant memories from three years ago and I’m pleased that we’ll meet our competitive friends once again. Since 2014, the people of Zrinjski have been our fiends – they had a very gentlemanly attitude towards us and they gave us a warm welcome. Their fans always ensure a wonderful atmosphere, and we have a pleasant match ahead of us. We respect our opponents, but the playing field is a different matter. We’ll do our best to prepare for the game as effectively as we can. Maribor will not allow any surprises,” said Maribor chief Zlatko Zahovič.

Olimpija headed to Finland, Domžale traveling to Estonia, Gorica to face Armenians
The three Slovenian teams that will play in the first qualifying round of the Europa League have also been assigned competitors. Olimpija will face off against Vaasa of Finland, while Domžale will play against Flora of Estonia. Gorica, which was the only unseeded team at the draw, will face Shirak of Armenia.

The first leg matches will take place on June 29, while the return leg matches are scheduled for July 6. Olimpija and Gorica will their play away games first, while Domžale will host the Estonians for the first game in Celje.

“We’ll do our best to clear the first hurdle. It’s important that we play intelligently and tactically,” said Olimpija captain Branko Ilić when asked to comment the draw.

If it manages to make it to the second round, Olimpija will face Brondby of Denmark, while Domžale will play against the winner of the match between Ventspils (Latvia) vs. Valur (Iceland). Gorica will face Panionios (Greece). Among the players at Brondby is Gregor Sikošek, while Matic Kotnik is a goalkeeper at Panionios.

R. K.; Translated by J. B.