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Rangers learn European opponents
Rangers learn European opponents
Rangers captain Barry Ferguson
Rangers were losing finalists in last season's Uefa Cup

Rangers will face either Andorra's Santa Coloma or FKB Kaunas of Lithuania in the Champions League second qualifying round in July and August.

Northern Ireland's Linfield face a tough first qualifying round test with Dinamo Zabreb of Croatia next month.

Welsh side Llanelli have been paired with Latvian outfit Ventspils.

Drogheda United from the Republic of Ireland are also involved in the competition and have been handed a tie with Estonian side Levadia.

Rangers, who reached the final of the Uefa Cup last season, are in the batch of third seeds for the Champions League.

Walter Smith's side are at home in the first leg of their second qualifying round, which is set to be played on 29/30 July, while the return tie is scheduled for 5/6 August.

The first qualifying round matches are set to be played during the weeks of 17 and 25 July.

Rangers' opponents, Kaunas, have become synonymous with Scottish football due to the Lithuanian club's association with Vladimir Romanov.

The businessman, who is the principal shareholder in Kaunas' main sponsor, is also the owner of Rangers' SPL rivals, Hearts.

Several Kaunas players have been loaned to Hearts, including Andrius Velicka, who later this month is expected to sign for Rangers from Viking Stravanger.

Kanuas are midway through their season as they bid to win the A Lyga for a ninth time in 10 years and currently sit top of their division.

Rangers have met Kaunas before in European competition, beating them 4-1 on aggregate in a Champions League qualifier in 2000.

Should Kaunas overcome Santa Coloma, they will host Rangers at the S Darius and S Girenas Stadium, where the Lithuanian national team also play.

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It was at this stadium that the present Rangers manager won a European Championship qualifying match during his spell as Scotland boss.

The Scots won 2-1 that evening, courtesy of goals by Christian Dailly and Kenny Miller, who have both since signed for Smith's side.

Kaunas will start as favourites against Santa Coloma, who won the Campionat de Lliga last season for a record fourth time.

But, during last year's Uefa Cup qualifying matches, Santa Coloma became the first Andorran side to win a Uefa club competition match by beating Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-0.

However, Maccabi's 4-0 victory in the second leg saw the Israeli side through to the next round.

Vicenc Marques' Santa Coloma squad is made up predominantly of Andorran players but also includes several Argentines and Spaniards.

Linfield's opponents, Dinamo Zagreb, have won the Croatian league for the past three seasons and they knocked Ajax out of the Uefa Cup in the 2007-2008 campaign.

The Northern Irish side, Llanelli and Drogheda will play their first legs on home soil.

If Linfield produced a shock result, they would face either Domzale of Slovenia or Dudelange of Luxembourg in the next stage.

Llanelli would meet Norwegian outfit Brann, while Drogheda would have the prospect of meeting Ukrainian outfit Dinamo Kiev, who played eventual winners Manchester United in last season's competition.

United, Chelsea and Celtic will enter the Champions League at the group stage, while Arsenal and Liverpool come in at the third qualifying round.


2008/09 Uefa Champions League first qualifying round

Linfield (Northern Ireland) v Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia)

Valletta (Malta) v Artmedia (Slovakia)

Dinamo Tbilisi (Georgia) v NSI Runavik (Faeroe Islands)

Santa Coloma (Andorra) v Kaunas (Lithuania)

Murata (San Marino) v IFK Goteborg (Sweden)

Llanelli (Wales) v Ventspils (Latvia)

Anorthosis Famugusta (Cyprus) v Pyunik (Armenia)

Inter Baku (Azerbaijan) v Rabotnicki (Macedonia)

Tampere United (Finland) vs. Buducnost Podgorica (Montenegro)

F91 Dudelange (Luxembourg) v Domzale (Slovenia)

Dinamo Tirana (Albania) vs. Modrica (Bosnia-Herzegovina)

Aktobe (Kazakhstan) vs. Sheriff (Moldova)

Drogheda United (Rep of Ire) v Levadia Tallinn (Estonia)

BATE (Belarus) v Valur Reykjavik (Iceland)

First leg ties to be played 15-16 July, second legs on 22-23 July


2008/09 Uefa Champions League second qualifying round

Rangers (Scotland) v Santa Coloma-Kaunas winner

Brann (Norway) v Llanelli-Ventspils winner

Inter Baku-Rabotnicki winner vs. Partizan Belgrade (Serbia)

Tampere United-Buducnost Podgorica winner v Artmedia-Valletta winner

Anorthosis Famugusta-Pyunik winner v Rapid Vienna (Austria)

F91 Dudelange-Domzale winner v Dinamo Zagreb-Linfield winner

Panathinaikos (Greece) v Dinamo Tbilisi-NSI Runavik winner

Murata-IFK Goteborg winner v FC Basel (Switzerland)

Aktobe-Sheriff winner v Sparta Prague (Czech Republic)

Drogheda United-Levadia Tallinn winner v Dinamo Kiev (Ukraine)

Anderlecht (Belgium) v BATE-Valur Reykjavik winner

Beitar Jerusalem (Israel) v Wisla Krakow (Poland)

Fenerbahce (Turkey) v MTK Budapest (Hungary)

Aalborg (Denmark) v Dinamo Tirana-Modrica winner

First leg ties to be played 29-30 July, second legs on 5-6 August

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