Tough Champions' League draw for Leeds

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The Independent Football

Peter Ridsdale, the Leeds United chairman, believes his team will have their work cut out to qualify for the group stages of the Champions' League.

Peter Ridsdale, the Leeds United chairman, believes his team will have their work cut out to qualify for the group stages of the Champions' League.

The Yorkshire club were paired against 1860 Munich when the draw for the third qualifying round was made in Switzerland yesterday. Leeds, back in Europe for the second successive year after playing in the Uefa Cup last season, will host the first leg next month.

"It's one of the toughest ties we could have had," said Ridsdale. "If you look at last year when we drew tough ties every time, it seems like we're having the same bad luck this time. Whoever wins this match will do very well in the Champions' League.

"The Bundesliga is a strong League and 1860 will provide strong opposition. We know we have to overcome them if we want to be involved with the big boys. It is this type of opposition we will face week in, week out if we progress to the Champions' League, so we are starting one game early."

The German side finished fourth in the table and have traditionally lived in the shadow of Bayern Munich. Their only player of note is the Germany midfielder, the vastly experienced, Thomas Hässler.

Ridsdale's opposite number, chairman Karlheinz Wildmoser, is under no illusions about the task ahead. "Leeds have to be the favourites, the absolute favourites without any doubt," he said. "They have a young,dynamic team for which we have a great deal of respect."

Leeds have met German opposition in six European ties and lost only once - to Bayern in the final of the Champions' Cup in 1975. On the most recent occasion, in 1992, they lost to VfB Stuttgart on away goals before Uefa ordered a replay because of a breach of rules by the Bundesliga club. In neutral Barcelona, Leeds won 2-1.

Meanwhile, Mark Viduka is poised to finally make his Leeds debut after belatedly receiving clearance for his international work permit. Viduka joined Leeds recently following a £6m move from Celtic, but the Elland Road club were forced to grapple for the permit with the Department for Education and Employment. They initially rejected Leeds' permit application for the Australian, stating he had not made enough international appearances during the previous two years.

But Ridsdale was always confident his club would win an appeal, which was held in London on Tuesday. Ridsdale and Viduka, however, were forced to wait 72 hours for the verdict from the DfEE, which finally cleared the 24-year-old to begin full-time training with the club.

With Leeds on a pre-season tour of Sweden, Viduka now looks set to play in the second of three matches against Lysekils.

Rangers, the Scottish champions, face a trip to Herfolge BK of Denmark, providing they defeat the Lithuanian side FBK Kaunas in the second qualifying round of the Champions' League. Herfolge won the Danish Championship for the first time in their history last season and their manager is the former Arsenal midfielder, John Jensen.

The Irish side Shelbourne will be away to either Hajduk Split or Dunaferr SE but only if they knock out the dangerous Norwegians Rosenborg in the second qualifying round.

CHAMPIONS' LEAGUE Third qualifying round draw: Tirol Innsbruck (Aut) v Valencia (Sp); Zimbru Chisinau (Mol) or Maribor (Sloven) v Sparta Prague (Cz Rep); Brondby (Den) or KR Reykjavik (Ice) v Hamburg (Ger); Internazionale (It) v Helsingborg (Swe) or Bate Borisov (Bela); Besiktas (Tur) or Levski Sofia (Bul) v Lokomotiv Moscow (Rus); FC Haka (Fin) or Inter Bratislava (Slovak) v Lyon (Fr); Anderlecht (Bel) or Anorthosis Famagusta (Cyp) v FC Porto (Por); Herfoelge (Den) v Rangers or Kaunas (Lith); Dynamo Kiev (Ukr) v Red Star Belgrade (Yug) or Torpedo Kutaisi (Geo); Dynamo Bucharest (Rom) or Polonia Warsaw (Pol) v Panathinaikos (Gr); Leeds United v 1860 Munich (Ger); Sturm Graz (Aut) or Hapoel Tel Aviv (Isr) v Feyenoord (Neth); Hajduk Split (Croa) or Dunaferr (Hun) v Shelbourne (Irl) or Rosenborg (Nor); St Gallen (Swit) v Galatasaray (Tur); Milan (It) v Dinamo Zagreb (Croa); Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukr) or Levadia Maardu (Est) v Slavia Prague (Cz Rep) or Shamkir (Azer). (Ties to be played on 8/9 August and 22/23 August).

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