Soccer: Hapoel TA drawn against Swedish club AIK Solna

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September 2, 2007 02:20
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Swedish club AIK Solna stands in the way of Hapoel Tel Aviv and its pursuit of qualification for the group stage of the UEFA Cup for a second straight season. Israel's lone representative in European competition will host the Swedes at Bloomfield Stadium in the first leg of the first round on September 20 and will visit AIK in the return leg two weeks later. Hapoel, which reached the round of 32 of the UEFA Cup last season, completed a 6-0 aggregate victory over Siroki Brijeg in the second qualifying round on Thursday. Solna struggled against Latvian side Metalurgs in the second qualifying round, losing 3-2 in the first leg on the road and only just advancing with a 2-0 home win. AIK finished third in the Swedish league last season and is currently placed in fifth position, two points behind leader and champion IF Elfsborg. AIK has already played 19 league matches and will have a significant advantage ahead of its encounter with Hapoel, which will be just three games into its Premier League campaign when the teams meet in the first leg. AIK has won 10 Swedish championships, but only two in the last 70 years and none since 1998. Solna, which hasn't taken part in European competition in three seasons, reached the group stage of the Champions League in the 1999/2000 season, finishing bottom of Group B, which included Barcelona, Arsenal and Fiorentina. "I'm still not familiar with our Swedish opponent. I will study them carefully in the coming days," Hapoel coach Guy Luzon said on Friday after hearing of the draw. "I guarantee that Hapoel Tel Aviv will make every effort to reach the group stage of the UEFA Cup for a second straight season."

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