NYON: Liverpool face the possibility of a trip to Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan or Armenia when they start the defence of their Champions League crown next month.
UEFA changed their rules to allow Liverpool to defend the trophy following their astonishing win over AC Milan in the Istanbul final in May, despite finishing outside the top-four qualifying places in the English Premiership.
In return, they must start their campaign in the first qualifying round for which they have been seeded.
The 12 potential opponents for Liverpool are FK Rabotnicki (Macedonia), Dinamo Minsk (Belarus), Pyunik (Armenia), Sliema Wanderers (Malta), KF Tirana (Albania), Levadia Tallinn (Estonia), Glentoran (Northern Ireland), Total Network Solutions (Wales), F91 Dudelange (Luxembourg), PFC Neftchi (Azerbaijan), HB Torshavn (Faroe Islands) and FC Kairat Almaty (Kazhakstan).
The draw will be made at UEFA headquarters in Nyon on Friday.
The first leg is now just three weeks away, with the competition getting under way on July 12 and 13, with the second leg a week later.
If Liverpool progress, they will also be seeded for the second qualifying round, so avoiding the likes of Celtic, Anderlecht, Dinamo Kiev and Lokomotiv Moscow, with the games to be played on July 26-27 and Aug 2-3.
The draw for the third qualifying round will be made on July 29. The final will be played on May 17 2006 at the Stade de France in Paris.
The Liverpool seeding, however, has met opposition from the Czech Football Federation (CMFS) and their championship runners-up Slavia Prague.
Slavia plan to appeal to UEFA should Liverpool reach the third preliminary round of the upcoming tournament.
Slavia Prague's complaint is that should Liverpool reach the third preliminary round, then the Czech side will lose top seeding and face a tougher opponent which will make it more difficult to qualify for the lucrative group stages.
I have already warned UEFA's director in charge of professional football Giorgio Marchetti (of our support for an appeal), said CMFS secretary-general, Petr Fousek. AFP
First qualifying round
Seeded: Liverpool (Eng), Artmedia Bratislava (Svk), Anorthosis Famagusta (Cyp), NK Gorica (Slo), Dinamo Tbilisi (Geo), Haka (Fin), Hafnarfjordur (Isl), Shelbourne (Irl), Zrinjski (Bih), Skonto (Lat), Sheriff (Mda), FBK Kaunas (Lit)
Unseeded: Rabotnicki (Mkd), Dinamo Minsk (Blr), Pyunik (Arm), Sliema Wanderers (Mlt), Tirana (Alb), Levadia Tallinn (Est), Glentoran (Nir), Total Network Solutions (Wal), F91 Dudelange (Lux), PFC Neftchi (Aze), HB Torshavn (Far), FC Kairat Almaty (Kaz) AFP