Kiryat Shmona to face off against BATE Borisov in Champions League playoff
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Kiryat Shmona to face off against BATE Borisov in Champions League playoff

Israeli David will tackle Belarusian Goliath for place among the elite

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona soccer players visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem after winning the national championship in April, 2012. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona soccer players visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem after winning the national championship in April, 2012. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Champions League playoff draws were announced on Friday, and Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona will pair off against Belarusian powerhouse BATE Borisov on August 22 in Minsk in the first-leg of the two-match playoff, with the return in Israel a week later.

BATE defeated Hungary’s Debrecen with a 3-1 aggregate score to advance to the playoffs. It has finished first in the Belarusian League for the past six seasons and has won the Belarusian Cup twice since 2006.

Last season BATE advanced to the Champions League group stage and was knocked out with four loses and two draws.

Kiryat Shmona won the national title for the first time in its history four months ago, and has made impressive and unprecedented strides in international soccer.

If it gets past the Belarusian team, it would enter the prestigious Champions League. If not, it will play in the second-level Europa League.

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