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Aberdeen and Hearts destined for familiar territory in Europa League

Published 20/06/2016

Derek McInnes and his Aberdeen team face a trip to Luxembourg
Derek McInnes and his Aberdeen team face a trip to Luxembourg

Aberdeen and Hearts both face returns to familiar territory if they proceed in their first Europa League challenges.

Aberdeen are likely to face a second trip to Latvia in three seasons if they beat Fola Esch of Luxembourg in the first qualifying round, while Hearts are on course to meet Siroki Brijeg of Bosnia and Herzegovina for a second time.

Hibernian go straight into the second round and have been handed a tough task with a likely encounter with Danes Brondby, who first must overcome Valur Reykjavik. Neil Lennon is due to be at home for his first game as Hibs manager on July 14, although UEFA has still to confirm the fixtures.

Brondby last won a European tie in 2010 before going out 3-2 to Braga in the Europa League play-offs.

Aberdeen will play seeded Latvians Ventspils or Vikingur of the Faroe Islands if they make the second round. The Dons would fancy their chances of progressing after beating Daugava Riga 8-0 on aggregate two years ago, although Ventspils reached the group stages in 2009-10 and only lost 1-0 on aggregate to Malmo on their previous appearance two years ago.

They will first need to overcome Fola, who finished second on goal difference behind Dudelange last season after winning the title twice in the previous two campaigns.

They have never won a European tie but held Gothenburg and Dinamo Zagreb to away draws in the past two seasons.

Aberdeen were drawn out first but Irish side St Patrick's are also due to be in Esch-sur-Alzette on July 7, against Jeunesse, which might mean a reschedule.

Hearts are set to be away in Estonia in their opener against Infonet on June 30.

Tallinn-based Infonet are one point off the top of the Estonian League after 17 matches. They will make their European debut against Hearts but have a notable recent cup record - they beat Virtsu Jalgpalliklubi 36-0 in their domestic tournament last year.

Hearts were seeded for the second round and were drawn against Siroki Brijeg or Maltese side Birkirkara. Hearts beat Siroki 3-0 in the Champions League qualifiers 10 years ago.

Other notable first-round ties include an Irish derby between Linfield and Cork City, with the winners taking on Swedish side Hacken.

Glenavon will play Grasshoppers of Zurich if they get past FK Reykjavik while Cliftonville also face a trip to Luxembourg, against Differdange, with a likely tie against Larnaca on offer for the winners.

Shamrock Rovers, who were seeded, face RoPS Rovaniemi of Finland in the first round with Lokomotiva Zagreb likely to face the winners.

Welsh sides Connah's Quay Nomads, Llandudno and Bala Town face Norwegians Stabaek, two-time winners Gothenburg and fellow Swedes AIK Solna respectively in the opening round.

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