Celtic drawn to face Sarajevo in Champions League qualifying

Celtic celebrate winning the Scottish title for the eighth time in a row
Celtic celebrate winning the Scottish title for the eighth time in a row

Celtic will open their Champions League qualifying campaign against Bosnian side Sarajevo.

Neil Lennon's side will take on a side managed by former Hearts striker Husref Musemic in the first qualifying round as they seek to reach the group stages for a third time in four years.

The treble-treble winners are due to play at home in the first leg on July 9-10, although selections are subject to change.

The Hoops missed out on a place in last year's group stage after being dumped out at the third qualifying round by Greek champions AEK Athens, although the team did progress to the last 32 of the Europa League under former boss Brendan Rodgers.

And UEFA have handed the Scottish champions the added safety net of a bye to the third qualifying round of the Europa League should they fail to get past Sarajevo.

Normally teams beaten in the opening Champions League qualifier would enter the lesser competition at the second round, but the loser of Celtic's clash with the Bosnians will be spared action until the next round due to an odd number of teams entering the Europa League's champions' path.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland champions Linfield will face Rosenborg of Norway in their opening Champions League qualifier, Ireland's Dundalk have been drawn to face Latvians Riga and The New Saints of Wales will face the winners of the preliminary round.

Kosovans Feronikeli take on Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar, while San Marino's Tre Penne meet FC Santa Coloma on June 25, with the two victors progressing to a play-off three days later that will decide who enters the competition proper.

Rangers set for tricky test

Rangers could face a daunting trip to Kosovo as they begin their Europa League quest.

Steven Gerrard's side have landed either FC Prishtina - who finished second in the Kosovo Superliga last term - or St Joseph's of Gibraltar in the first qualifying round.

The teams meet over two legs on June 27 and July 4 to decide who will take on the Light Blues.

The Glasgow giants are provisionally scheduled to travel away from home for the first leg on July 11, with the Ibrox return pencilled in for July 18.

If Prishtina make it through, it will mean a 3,500-mile round-trip to the Balkan state for starters as Gerrard looks to repeat last season's feat, where his team overcame four qualifying rounds to make the group stages.

However, Kilmarnock will be making a mere 500-mile journey to Wales and back for their first European clash since 2002 after being paired with Connah's Quay Nomads.

Aberdeen will kick off their fifth straight Europa League campaign at Pittodrie after being drawn against Finnish outfit RoPS Rovaniemi.

Northern Ireland's Ballymena will take on Malmo of Sweden if they can see their way past NSI Runavik of Iceland in the preliminary round.

Compatriots Crusaders face B36 Torshavn of the Faroe Islands, while Cliftonville and Welsh side Barry Town will fight it out for the chance to take on FK Haugesund of Norway when they also meet in the preliminary round.

Ireland's Shamrock Rovers have also landed a trip to Norway after being paired with Brann while Cork City take on either Luxembourg's Progres Niederkorn - who caused a major upset when they dumped Gers out of the competition two years ago - or Cardiff University.

Dubliners St Patrick's Athletic are due to meet Sweden's IFK Norrkoping.

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