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APOEL to discover Champions League opponents

Cypriot champions APOEL will on Friday  discover which team they will face in the Champions League playoffs as they aim to reach the group stages of Europe’s premier club competition for a fourth time.

On Wednesday, the Nicosia club scored three times in extra time to down Romania’s Viitorul 4-0 at the GSP Stadium and advance 4-1 on aggregate.

Seeded in Friday’s draw in Nyon which will take place at 1pm (Cyprus time), they will now face either Azerbaijan’s Qarabag, Astana of Kazakhstan, Israel’s Hapoel Beer-Sheva, Croatia’s Rijeka or the Czech Republic’s Slavia Prague.

The first legs will be played on August 15/16, with the returns taking place on August 22/23.

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The 10 play-off winners will join 22 automatic entrants in the group stage, the draw for which will be made in Monaco on August 24. The ten losers will transfer to the Europa League group stage, with that draw taking place on August 25.

Recently-appointed APOEL boss Georgios Donis led the side to their last Champions League group stage campaign back in 2014. Under former manager Ivan Jovanovic, APOEL had reached the Champions League proper in 2009 and 2011 – even famously reaching the quarter-finals in their second campaign.

Last season under Thomas Christiansen, APOEL reached the Last 16 of the Europa League, which included big wins over Olympiacos, Young Boys and Athletic Bilbao.

In a separate Champions League draw on Friday, the non-champion sides will also take place and will involve seeded sides Sevilla, Napoli, Liverpool, CSKA Moscow and Sporting pitted against Steaua Bucharest, Young Boys, Hoffenheim, Nice and Istanbul Basaksehir.

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