The Slovenia Times

Maribor Get Astana in Champions League Qualifiers


The first match of what will be the second round of qualifying will be played on 14 or 15 July in Maribor's Ljudski vrt stadium and the return leg in Kazakhstan a week later.

"This is the least favourable draw for us," Maribor sports director Zlatko Zahović commented, adding that Astana had played well in last year's Europa League and that they were already in competition mode.

"The first match is at home and we will need help from fans, who will need to turn out as if we are already playing in the Champions League. The first match with Astana will the match of the season," said Zahović, who is optimistic about Maribor's chances.

Astana was founded in 2009 and plays home games at the 30,000-seat Astana Arena. According to Transfermarkt, the overall value of the club's players is EUR 12.1m, which is EUR 3.5m less than that of Maribor players.

"The champions of Kazakhstan have invested a lot in the team in recent years. Their results deserve respect. We will surely need the energy from the fans in the first match already," added head coach Ante Šimundža.

One of the key players for the Slovenian champions, Brazilian-born captain Marcos Tavares, said that the team would need to be focused and give their best in order to win.

Last season Maribor played in the group stage of the Champions League after qualifying for Europe's elite club competition for the first time in 15 years. The club finished last in Group G with three points from six matches.


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