Football: CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Mid-Winter Norwegian Trek Warms Magpies; UEFA CUP

The Birmingham Post (England), December 13, 2003 | Go to article overview

Football: CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Mid-Winter Norwegian Trek Warms Magpies; UEFA CUP


Byline: Ken Gaunt & Chris Roberts

Sir Bobby Robson is a satisfied man after his Newcastle United were paired with Valerenga, of Norway, in the Uefa Cup.

Robson will take his team to Oslo in February for the first leg of the third-round match when Valerenga will still be enjoying a domestic mid-winter break.

Newcastle spokesman Russell Cushing said: 'I have spoken to Bobby and he is happy with the draw.

'It is probably the best we could have hoped for bearing in mind the group we were in. Spartak Moscow and Auxerre are very strong as are our friends in Turkey (Gazaintepspor).'

Valerenga's ground has a 25,000 capacity and Cushing hopes they will be generous in their ticket allocation.

'Our fans love to travel and Oslo is reasonably accessible,' he said. 'We would be looking for good support.'

Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry hopes his club's experience in knock-out competitions will help them overcome Levski Sofia.

Gerard Houllier's side won the Uefa Cup, as well as the FA Cup and League Cup, in 2001 and Parry said: 'We have a lot of experience in cup competitions. If you think back, 2001 was hugely enjoyable. It would be magnificent if we could go so far again.

'We haven't been to Bulgaria for a while. It continues our Eastern odyssey this year after Slovenia and Romania.'

Celtic manager Martin O'Neill believes the Uefa Cup would be just as difficult to win as the Champions' League.

His side's consolation for elimination from Europe's premier competition is a tricky tie with Czech side Teplice.

'The final is a long way away,' O'Neill said of a draw which includes Barcelona, Inter Milan, Roma, Benfica, Marseille and Valencia.

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