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Small Clubs Make Run at Champions League Group Stage

The second leg of the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round will conclude this week and several small clubs from throughout Europe are in position to qualify for the group stage.  A closer look follows.

Anorthosis Famagusta FC: The Cypriot squad defeated Greek power Olympiacos CFP by a score of 3-0 in the first leg.  If Anorthosis holds on, the club will be the first from Cyprus to qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.  The squad is captained by 35-year-old midfielder Nicos Nicolaou.  The Cypriot international has been with the club since 2001.

FBK Kaunas: The Lithuanian outfit’s shock victory over Scottish power Rangers FC in the second qualifying round knocked last season’s UEFA Cup runner-up out of European play.  With the clock running out, 23-year-old attacking midfielder Linas Pilibaitis scored to help send Kaunas into the third qualifying round.  Down by only two goals to Aalborg BK, will Kaunas find some more home-ground magic?

FC BATE Borisov:  The first Belarusian side to ever advance to the third qualifying round, BATE scored a surprising away goal against Bulgaria’s Levski Sofia.  If BATE can protect this one-goal advantage at the 5,500 seat Horodskiy Stadium, the Belarusian squad will qualify for the group stage.