AEL Limassol – A brief guide

St Joseph’s make their European debut today when they take on Cypriot side AEL Limassol, and we take a brief look at their counterparts at the Estadio Algarve tonight.

Limassol are playing in European competition for the first time since 2014-15, where they lost to Zenit in the Champions League and Tottenham in the Europa League qualifiers. In 2012-13, they did reach the group stages of the Europa League after narrowly losing out in the Champions League playoffs against Anderlecht. In that group they notably won against Marseille while also securing a draw at home to Monchengladbach, which shows the level of opposition Saints will have to face today.

They have also won six Cypriot league titles, most recently in 2011-12, and qualified for the Europa League this year by finishing fourth in the Cypriot league, 10 points behind second place AEK Larnaca who take on Lincoln this evening as well.

Their current manager is the 39-year old Portuguese, Bruno Miguel Nunes Baltazar whose post-playing career has seen him manage a number of teams in Portugal and now Cyprus, while he was also the assistant manager of the Filipino national team for a short time in 2014.

Andreas Kyriakou, a 23-year old defender, was the only Limassol player in the Cyprus squad when they took on Gibraltar earlier this month, while two of their other players, Dossa Junior and Marios Nicolaou, were called up for the fixture in Cyprus last year. Tonight’s match officials are Faroese and the referee is Petur Reinert who has been refereeing games in European competition since 2007


The New Saints – A brief guide

Europa take on Welsh Champions The New Saints (TNS) in the Champions League this week, so we take a brief look at the team standing in the way of Europa at the first hurdle.

When were they founded – TNS first started in 1959 as Llansantffraid FC, who eventually joined with Oswestry Town.

I recognise them by a different name? – The New Saints were formerly known as Total Network Solutions, following a deal with an Oswestry-based computer networking specialist. The team garnered a lot of public awareness when Soccer Saturday presenter Jeff Stelling famously stated: “They’ll be dancing in the streets of Total Network Solutions tonight!”

Do they have European pedigree? – They have consistently qualified for Europe in the 21st century, most notably taking on then European champions Liverpool in the 05-06 qualifiers. They’ve either reached, or started in the Second Qualifying Round of the Champions League for each of the last five seasons.

Their stadium is not in Wales though? – TNS stadium, Park Hall, is actually based in Oswestry, a town in England just 8km away from the Welsh border – the equivalent of Europa playing in San Roque in terms of distance.

How did they do in the league last season? – They comfortably won the Welsh Premier by some 27 points, losing just three of 32 league matches and racking up over 100 goals in the process.

What players should we look out for? – One-time New Zealand international Greg Draper, as well as Alex Darlington, were the clubs two best goal threats in the league.

Random fact – TNS’ Polish winger Adrian Cieślewicz played his brother Lukasz at this stage in 2015, with TNS defeating Faroese side B36 Torshavn.