UEFA Champions League: Lincoln ready for debut

The Gibraltarian champions are the first team from their country to enter Europe's flagship club competition after Gibraltar became a UEFA member nation last year.

A second-round clash with Partizan Belgrade of Serbia will be the prize on the horizon for both teams when they kick-off the first leg at Lincoln's Victoria Stadium on Wednesday.

Lincoln manager Mick McElwee will hope for further heroics from attacker Kyle Casciaro, who secured Gibraltar their first win at international level when he scored the only goal to sink Malta in Faro on June 5.

A significant chunk of the national side is drawn from McElwee's squad, so their experience gained over the past eight months - which has also taken in a draw against Estonia - could prove valuable.

Estonia provides the team with the highest UEFA co-efficient in this fledgling round of the competition, Levadia Tallinn.

The eight-time Estonian champions sprung a surprise during the 2009 preliminary rounds by knocking out Poland's Wisla Krakow and face another attractive tie against Czech title-holders Sparta Prague, providing they can get past La Fiorita of San Marino.

Ahead of the first leg at Serravalle's Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday, Levadia manager Marko Kristal foresees few problems for his team 

"La Fiorita are the easiest opponents we could have got – it would be much harder against Banants," he told UEFA.com. 

"Every European league winner should be quite strong but still, the draw was lucky for us. 

"It's a totally different story with AC Sparta Praha after that. They are a really big European team. 

"Our only aim is to get through to the second qualifying round. I believe our squad is strong enough to complete the task."

The team Kristal was happy to avoid, Armenia's Banants, play in Tuesday's other game.

On paper, they face a similarly straightforward task with a trip to face Andorran Primero Divisio champions FC Santa Coloma, although manager Zsolt Hornyak sounded a more conciliatory tone.

"Only the best teams play in the UEFA Champions League so there is no way you would have an easy ride here," he told UEFA.com.

"It will be a Champions League debut both for me personally and for Banants. However, we will do our best to show we are a very well organised side and not give the impression of debutants. We are aiming to raise the profile of Armenian clubs."

Israel's Maccabi Tel Aviv lie in wait for the winner between Banants and Santa Coloma. 

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