Setanta Cup winners Crusaders can look forward to a tough Europa League clash with former Champions League participants, Rosenborg, in the pick of the European ties involving Irish League sides.
The first leg will played in Seaview on Thursday, July 5, with the return tie one week later at the Lerkendal Stadion in Trondheim. Rosenborg competed in the group stages of the Champions League 11 times in 13 years between 1995 to 2007, progressing to the quarter-finals in the 1996-1997 season.
The task facing Stephen Baxter’s men will be made all the more difficult by the fact that Rosenborg are 12 games into their domestic season, all though they are currently in fifth position in the Tippeligaen having drawn seven and winning only four of their games so far.
Even so they will be firm favourites to advance and Stephen Baxter acknowledged the difficulty facing his side when speaking to the News Letter:
“There is no doubt this is a massive test for us. We are huge underdogs against a side like Rosenborg.... The fact that they are well into their season, and we haven’t even started, obviously adds to the challenge, but this will be great for the fans. Last year they got Fulham and now they have Rosenborg to look forward to.”
Elsewhere, champions Linfield were handed a winnable tie against B36 Torshavn from the Faroe Islands in the first qualifying round of the Champions League. Should they overcome the Torshavn then they will face AEL Limassol FC of Cyprus in the next round.
David Jeffrey will hope that his side can benefit from playing a tie where they may end up as favourites and not be massive underdogs like in recent seasons, where they have faced clubs of the calibre of Dynamo Zagreb and Rosenborg.
Cliftonville will face Swedish Cup final runners-up, Kalmar FF in their Europa League tie, with the first leg to be played in Solitude on Thursday 5th of July, while Portadown must play Macedonian club FC Shkendija.