By Gary Fulcher.
Liverpool begin their 2012/13 Europa League campaign against Belarus side FC Gomel on Thursday evening in a 3rd Qualifying Round 1st leg tie, kick off 19.00 UK time. The match against the team currently sitting in 3rd place in the Belarus Premier League will mark Brendan Rodgers’ first competitive game in charge of the Reds and his first taste of managing against European opposition.
FC Gomel gained entry into the 2012/13 Europa League at the 1st qualifying round stage after finishing 3rd in the Belarus Premier League in 2011, which was an impressive achievement for a team who had only just returned to the top flight (FC Gomel also won the Belarus Cup in 2011). The Belarusians knocked out Faroe Island’s Vikingur Gota 10-0 on aggregate at the first qualifying round stage and overcame Macedonian side Renova 2-1 on aggregate at the 2nd qualifying round stage.
Liverpool gained qualification for the Europa League via a domestic cup triumph, defeating Cardiff City in the League Cup final back in February. Despite Brendan Rodgers being untested on the European stage, the Reds are ranked amongst the bookies’ favourites to reach the final on May 15, held at the Amsterdam Arena.
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