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Celtic drawn with Cliftonville

Celtic have been drawn to play Northern Ireland champions Cliftonville in qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.

Last Updated: 02/07/13 at 13:02 Post Comment

Celtic: Neil Lennon's men in action against Barcelona in last season's C

Celtic: Neil Lennon's men in action against Barcelona in last season's C

Neil Lennon's side will play the first leg of their second-round qualifier on July 16/17 before hosting the return game a week later.

Celtic reached the knockout stage of last season's competition thanks in part to a group-stage victory over Barcelona in Glasgow, and striker Anthony Stokes is looking forward to this term's opener.

He told the club website: "It's a great draw for both clubs "Cliftonville had an exceptional season and it will be a tough game and we will have to be at our best, but we're going to have a good pre-season and will be ready.

"Both atmospheres will be electric. I'm sure they will have a good crowd over here for the game as I know there is a decent relationship between the two clubs.

"I know a lot of their fans would be Celtic fans as well or would look for us to do well, though maybe not in these two games."

Elsewhere, Welsh club the New Saints were paired with Legia Warsaw of Poland, while Irish champions Sligo Rovers will take on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Norwegian side Molde.

The winners of the second-round ties must come through two further rounds of qualifying to make the group stage, although should Celtic progress they will be seeded for any further qualifying rounds.

UEFA Champions League first and second qualifying round draws:

First qualifying round:

Shirak v Tre Penne

Lusitanos v EB/Streymur

Ties to be played 2/3 and 9/10 July

Second qualifying round:

Neftci v Skenderbeu

Steaua Bucuresti v Vardar

Plzen v Zeljeznicar

FC Sheriff v Sutjeska

Birkirkara v Maribor

Sligo Rovers v Molde

IF Elfsborg v FC Daugava

HJK Helsinki v Nomme Kalju

FK Ekranas v FH Hafnarfjordur

The New Saints v Legia Warsaw

Celtic v Cliftonville

Dinamo Zagreb v CS Fola Esch

Gyor v Maccabi Tel-Aviv

BATE v Shakhtyor Karaganda

Shirak/Tre Penne v Partizan Belgrade

Slovan Bratislava v Ludogorets

Dinamo Tbilisi v Lusitanos/EB/Streymur

Ties to be played 16/17 and 23/24 July

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f he can find the right player? Surely the manager of one of Europe's top clubs has a well-researched short-list and has a good idea of who he wants to bring on-board? If I can find the right player sounds like someone going out on Saturday night on the pull, and the nearer you get to midnight the lower your standards drop.

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