Dancing in streets of Raith again

Click to follow
The Independent Online


English clubs, Everton and Leeds in particular, drew some attractive and formidable opponents in Europe yesterday. Yet the biggest plum, topped off with a substantial dollop of cream in the shape of Jurgen Klinsmann, was pulled out by Raith Rovers.

The Scottish Coca-Cola Cup winners, whose first Continental caper has already led them to the Faroes and Iceland, now meet Bayern Munich, for whom Klinsmann deserted Tottenham in the summer. Though the competition is the Uefa Cup (17 and 31 October), the tie has the classic ingredients more frequently found in the FA Cup.

Raith stand fifth from both top and bottom of the Premier Division, as against the former European Cup holders' 100 per cent record after seven games in the Bundesliga. The Fifers' average gate last season, 3,900, pales next to Bayern's 54,000-plus in the Olympic Stadium.

Dancing in the streets of Bayern might, however, be ill-advised. Aberdeen and Norwich were scarcely better known in Bavaria than Raith, but both put them out of Europe. Klinsmann and the Kaiser will not, alas, be coming to Kirkcaldy, where Raith are based. Starks Park holds just 8,000, so the second leg will be staged at Easter Road. German TV fees of pounds 500,000 should soften the blow.

Jimmy Nicholl, Raith's manager, may even be tempted to see for himself how Bayern handle the champions, Borussia Dortmund, this weekend. Likewise, tomorrow's Dutch League fixture between PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord looks a must for scouts from Everton and Leeds.

Everton face Feyenoord in the Cup-Winners' Cup (19 October and 2 November), which means a second-leg return to the stadium in Rotterdam where they won the trophy in 1985. A less auspicious augury is the clubs' Uefa Cup tie in 1978, when Feyenoord prevailed in both legs. In the same tournament, Celtic face Paris St-Germain, who boast the new enfant sauvage of French football, the aptly named Patrice Loko.

Leeds' reward for beating Monaco is a tie with another of the Uefa Cup's glamorous names, PSV, who are currently three points behind Ajax. With the former Netherlands manager, Dick Advocaat, entrusted with the task of breaking the Amsterdam club's dominance, and Wim Jonk and Jan Wouters reunited in midfield, the one-time works team for the Philips electrical company represent a prestigious scalp.

Nottingham Forest tackle Auxerre, who in 1991 beat Liverpool 2-0 in Burgundy before caving in at Anfield. History favours Forest; French clubs have only twice defeated English rivals in 17 ties.

Liverpool appear to have an even better chance of achieving what proved beyond any British outfit in the Uefa Cup a year ago - a place in the third round. Their Danish opponents, Brondby, nevertheless command respect, having drawn at Arsenal last season, as did Auxerre, though the Gunners beat both away.