Newcastle content with Uefa Cup opponents

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The Independent Football

Sir Bobby Robson, the Newcastle United manager, was a satisfied man after his side were drawn against Valerenga of Norway in the Uefa Cup yesterday.

Robson will take his team to Oslo in February for the first leg of this third round match. Newcastle have the advantage, it seems, as Valerenga will still be enjoying a domestic mid-winter break.

The club's chief operating officer, Russell Cushing, said: "I have spoken to Bobby and he is happy with the draw. It is probably the best we could have hoped for bearing in mind the group we were in. Spartak Moscow and Auxerre are very strong as are our friends in Turkey [Gazaintepspor]."

Valerenga's ground has a 25,000 capacity and Cushing hopes they will be generous in their ticket allocation. "Our fans love to travel and Oslo is reasonably accessible," he said. "We would be looking for good support."

Liverpool's chief executive, Rick Parry, said he hopes their experience in knockout competitions will help the club overcome Levski Sofia. Gérard Houllier's side are looking to win the trophy for the second time in four seasons. They won the Uefa Cup as well as the FA Cup and League Cup in 2001.

"We have a lot of experience in cup competitions," Parry said. "If you think back, 2001 was hugely enjoyable. It would be magnificent if we could go so far again. We haven't been to Bulgaria for a while. It continues our Eastern odyssey this year after Slovenia and Romania. Any team that gets this far is going to be half decent. We are not unhappy as the travelling won't be too bad either."

Celtic, beaten by a silver goal in last year's final against Porto and edged out of the Champions' League after a narrow 3-2 loss to Lyon, will play the Czech side Teplice, who have knocked out the 2002 winners Feyenoord and Germany's Kaiserslautern.

Martin O'Neill, the Celtic manager, insists he will not underestimate the threat of Teplice. O'Neill is still coming to terms with his side's failure against Lyon and yesterday he refused to take anything for granted concerning his side's opponents in the Uefa Cup.

"They are not as easy as people expect," he said. "We know any side from the Czech Republic would be pretty tasty in terms of technical ability as well.

"We are in the hat for it so I suppose that is a consolation for us after Wednesday evening. But we know that they won against Feyenoord, who won the competition a couple of years ago."

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