Hoops given tricky task in Europa League play-off

Hoops given tricky task in Europa League play-off

Shamrock Rovers will play Qarabag FK (Azerbaijan) or Ferencvaros (Hungary) in the play-off round of the Europa League if they can overcome Shkupi of Macedonia in the third stage of qualifying.

In the complicated draw procedure, the Hoops emerged late from their pot and as such knew they would face a Champions League second-round loser, rather than a designated team from the second tier competition.

Qarabag competed in the Conference League group stages last year and have played in the Europa League three times.

Ferencvaros are group stage regulars and saw off Slovan Bratislava, who defeated Shamrock Rovers in 2021, to progress this year.

The loser of the tie will meet Stephen Bradley’s side or Shkupi, starting the first leg at home.

However, the Conference League draw has brought a better outcome on paper for the Dublin side.

If Shamrock Rovers lose to Shkupi, they will play the winner of Ballkani (Kosovo) v KÍ Klaksvík (Faroe Islands) in the play-off round of the Europa Conference League.

Ballkani lost to Lithuanian side Zalgiris in the first round of Champions League qualifying, while KI will be familiar to Ireland after losing to Dundalk in a Europa League play-off in 2020.

St Patrick’s Athletic and Sligo Rovers have both avoided the big names in the Europa Conference League, where Fiorentina and Villarreal had been possible opponents.

If Pat’s can overcome CSKA Sofia, they will meet Brondby (Denmark) or Basel (Switzerland) in the next round in a difficult draw.

Sligo Rovers would face Dunajská Streda of Slovakia or FCSB from Romania, formerly known as Steaua Bucharest.

Europa League play-off draw:

Qarabag FK (Azerbaijan) or Ferencvarosi TC (Hungary) v Shamrock Rovers / Shkupi (North Macedonia)

Europa Conference League play-off draw:

Loser of Shamrock Rovers / Shkupi v Winner of Ballkani (Kosovo) v KÍ Klaksvík

CSKA Sofia / St. Patrick’s Athletic v Brondby (Denmark) / Basel (Switzerland)

Dunajská Streda (Slovakia) / FCSB (Romania) v Viking FC / Sligo Rovers

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Watch CSKA Sofia v St Patrick’s Athletic live on the RTÉ News channel on Thursday at 6pm, with live blog on rte.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app, including updates on Viking FC v Sligo Rovers and then Shamrock Rovers v Shkupi at 8pm.

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