Sunday 21 January 2018

Sligo Rovers to face Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Molde in Champions League

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Sligo Rovers manager Ian Baraclough

Airtricity League champions Sligo Rovers will face Norwegian titleholders FK Molde in their second qualifying round tie for the Champions League while Celtic will face Cliftonville in a mouthwatering derby.

Ian Baraclough's men will play the first leg at the Sportsgrounds on July 16 or 17 before travelling to Scandanavia the following week to face the side managed by former Manchester United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

It promises to be a logistical nightmare for Rovers fans getting to the return leg in Molde which 350km away from the capital Oslo.

Molde have won the last two Norwegian titles under Solskjaer's stewardship and are a strong side with a lot of African imports.

The last time Sligo faced Norwegian opposition, they were beaten 4-0 by Lillestrom in the 1996 Intertoto Cup.

It's a tough draw for the Irish champions who unfortunately avoided a fairytale fixture with Celtic. Neil Lennon will return to Northern Ireland with his side to take on Cliftonville with the first leg at Parkhead.

The fixture will mean a huge cash injection for the Belfast club.

Should they overcome the Danske Bank Premiership winners, Neil Lennon's men will need to get through two more qualifying rounds to reach the group stage as the 16 victorious teams in round two must navigate the third qualifying round and a play-off to reach the group stage.

The Scottish champion's campaign this year will begin against a side who won their own domestic league by eight points last term.

Cliftonville's European campaign last season came to an end at the first qualifying round of the Europa League at the hands of Swedish side Kalmar.

The draw in Nyon, Switzerland also saw Welsh champions The New Saints drawn draw Polish side Legia Warsaw.

The draw for the UEFA Champions League first and second qualifying round draws are as follows:

First Qualifying Round: Shirak v Tre Penne, Lusitanos v EB/Streymur

Ties to be played 2/3 and 9/10 July

Second Qualifying Round: Neftci v Skenderbeu, Steaua Bucuresti v Vardar, Plzen v Zeljeznicar, FC Sheriff v Sutjeska, Birkirkara v Maribor, Sligo Rovers v Molde, IF Elfsborg v FC Daugava, HJK Helsinki v Nomme Kalju, FK Ekranas v FH Hafnarfjordur, The New Saints v Legia Warsaw, Celtic v Cliftonville, Dinamo Zagreb v CS Fola, Esch Gyor v Maccabi Tel-Aviv, BATE v Shakhtyor Karaganda, Shirak/Tre Penne v Partizan Belgrade, Slovan Bratislava v Ludogorets, Dinamo Tbilisi v Lusitanos/EB/Streymur

Ties to be played 16/17 and 23/24 July

Online Editors

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