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FAIR PLAY WINNERS AGAIN FOR TNS
Osters
The Östers IF Värendsvallen Stadium.
FOR the second season running, Saints have drawn a fair play qualifier in the first stage of the Uefa Cup.
Last year it was Manchester City, this time it is Östers IF of Sweden.
With the Swedish FA topping the European disciplinary rankings, Östers were awarded a European spot despite being in their country's second division, as they finished fourth in the fair play league and the three clubs above them had already qualified for Uefa competitions.
Östers, who play in the 16-club Superettan (second division), are based in the university town of Växjö in southern Sweden.
They have plenty of European experience, although much of it dates back to glory years in the 1970s, when they enjoyed considerable success.
They reached the UEFA Cup third round in 1976/7 with a 4-3 aggregate win over Hibs after a memorable 4-1 away win at Easter Road, before an 8-1 thrashing at the hands of Barcelona; they had lost by only 2-1 to Italian giants Roma in the previous year's second round. Their last Uefa Cup appearance, 11 years ago, saw them crash 7-2 to Norwegian outfit Kongsvinger.
But since those heady days, the club has struggled financially and came close to bankruptcy four years ago.
After appointing Russian Jevgenij Kouznetsov as coach, fortunes improved and the club won promotion from the Superettan in 2002, returning to the Allsvenskan Premier League for the first time in five years.
But their tenure lasted just one season, as they were relegated following a 5-2 defeat by Djurgården in Stockholm's Olympic Stadium in 2003.
They currently lie ninth in their league with just four wins from 11 games played so far.
As the Swedes were drawn first out of the hat in Geneva, they will host the first leg at their 15,000-capacity Värendsvallen Stadium on Thursday 15 July.
The second leg, a fortnight later, is to be played at Wrexham's Racecourse Ground, by which time Saints will know exactly what they have to do to progress to the next round.
Haverfordwest County drew Icelandic side Hafnarfjördur, but Champions League qualifiers Rhyl face the toughest task of all the Welsh clubs when they take on Skonto Riga, who have won the Latvian league for the last 13 years and have seven current internationals in their squad.
Skonto beat Barry Town 5-0 on aggregate two years ago at the same stage of the competition, as well as thrashing Newtown 7-1 in the 1996/7 Uefa Cup.
ÖSTER'S EUROPEAN RECORD
1993/4
UEFA
1
Öster
2-7
Kongsvinger (Norway)
1991/2
UEFA
1
Lyon (France)
2-1
Öster
1988/9
UEFA
1
Öster
2-6
Dunajská Streda (Slovakia)
1984/5
UEFA
1
Öster
0-2
LASK (Austria)
1981/2
EC
1
Öster
0-6
Bayern Munich (Germany)
1979/80
EC
1
Nottingham Forest
3-1
Öster
1977/8
ECWC
1
Lokomotiva Košice (Czech)
2-2
Öster
1976/7
UEFA
1
KuPS (Finland)
3-4
Öster
 
2
Hibernian (Scotland)
3-4
Öster
 
3
Öster
1-8
Barcelona (Spain)
1975/6
UEFA
1
Molde (Norway)
1-6
Öster
 
2
Öster
1-2
Roma (Italy)
1974/5
UEFA
1
Öster
4-4
Dinamo Moskva (USSR)
1973/4
UEFA
1
Öster
2-5
Feyenoord (Holland)
1969/70
EC
1
Fiorentina (Italy)
3-1
Öster
25 June 2021
 
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