Istanbul (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur will play Rennes and Vitesse Arnhem as well as Mura of Slovenia in the group stage of the inaugural Europa Conference League following Friday’s draw in Istanbul.
Spurs, who are the sole English representative after finishing seventh in the Premier League last season, could probably not have got a tougher draw in the new, third-tier competition.
However, coach Nuno Espirito Santo will be relieved to have avoided any lengthy trips to far-flung destinations as Spurs could have found themselves drawn against opponents from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan or Israel.
Tottenham qualified for the group stage by beating Pacos de Ferreira of Portugal 3-0 on Thursday for a 3-1 aggregate victory, with Harry Kane scoring twice.
Rennes, who came sixth in Ligue 1 last season and have spent 50 million euros ($58.8m) on new signings this summer, defeated Rosenborg of Norway to make it through.
Vitesse finished fourth in the Dutch Eredivisie last season. They have enjoyed close links with Chelsea in recent years which have seen the likes of Nemanja Matic and Mason Mount have loan spells at the Gelredome.
Mura won the Slovenian title for the first time last season but were beaten by Ludogorets of Bulgaria in the Champions League second qualifying round and then by Sturm Graz of Austria in the Europa League play-offs this week, to parachute into the new competition.
Jose Mourinho’s Roma, the only Italian side in the tournament, will play Zorya Luhansk of Ukraine, Bulgarian Cup winners CSKA Sofia and Norwegian champions Bodo/Glimt in Group C.
Meanwhile Lincoln Red Imps, who have made history by becoming the first team from Gibraltar to reach the group stage of a European competition, can look forward to ties against FC Copenhagen, PAOK of Greece and Slovan Bratislava.
The group stage will begin on September 16 and the final will be held in the Albanian capital Tirana on May 25 next year.
Draw for the group stage:
Group A: LASK Linz (AUT), Maccabi Tel-Aviv (ISR), Alashkert (ARM), HJK Helsinki (FIN)
Group B: Gent (BEL), Partizan Belgrade (SRB), Flora Tallinn (EST), Anorthosis Famagusta (CYP)
Group C: Roma (ITA), Zorya Luhansk (UKR), CSKA Sofia (BUL), Bodo/Glimt (NOR)
Group D: AZ Alkmaar (NED), CFR Cluj (ROM), Jablonec (CZE), Randers (DEN)
Group E: Slavia Prague (CZE), Feyenoord (NED), Union Berlin (GER), Maccabi Haifa (ISR)
Group F: FC Copenhagen (DEN), PAOK (GRE), Slovan Bratislava (SVK), Lincoln Red Imps (GIB)
Group G: Tottenham Hotspur (ENG), Rennes (FRA), Vitesse Arnhem (NED), Mura (SLO)
Group H: FC Basel (SUI), Qarabag (AZE), Kairat Almaty (KAZ), Omonia (CYP)
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