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Page last updated at 16:52 GMT, Monday, 26 July 2010 17:52 UK

TNS 'excited' by Anderlecht Champions League tie

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE - third qualifying round first leg
Venue: Racecourse Ground Date: Tuesday, 27 July Kick-off: 1945 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Shropshire & online and score updates on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru and on the BBC Sport website


Steve Evans
Steve Evans is the only post-war non-league player to represent Wales

Steve Evans will lead his TNS side into their historic Champions League clash with European giants Anderlecht knowing his Welsh champions are "underdogs".

But The New Saints captain hopes their big-game European experience against Liverpool and Manchester City means the match is not a step into the unknown.

TNS's Anderlecht glamour tie is the first time in 11 attempts they have qualified for the next round of Europe.

"We're under no illusion about our task ahead as we are underdogs," said Evans.

The former Welsh international was part of TNS's team that beat Irish side Bohemians 4-1 in the second qualifying round.

And the North Walians' reward for being the first Welsh club to win a Champions League tie since Barry Town in 2001 - who knocked out Shamkir of Azerbaijan - is a showdown with the Belgian champions.

Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht are the two-times European Cup Winners Cup champions of the late 1970s and the 1983 Uefa Cup winners who won their national league for a record 30th time last season.

Saints boss Mike Davies knows "the odds are stacked against" his men whose European campaign will continue whether they beat Anderlecht or not as TNS will drop into the Europa Cup, European football's second-tier tournament.

If we do go out, and the odds are against us, there are some cracking draws that we could get in the Europa Cup like Liverpool, Juventus, Manchester City and Aston Villa

TNS manager Mike Davies

"We are really excited about the tie and there is a buzz about the camp," said Evans, who won the last of his seven Wales caps in a 2010 World Cup qualifier in Russia in 2008.

"I probably know more about their history than I know about their current team but they are decent.

"In the past we've played the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City, so we've got experience of playing big clubs.

"We're the underdogs and we've got nothing to lose so we'll go out there and give it our best shot."

Former Wrexham centre-back Evans returns to his old stomping ground at the Racecourse to play their European tie as TNS hope to capitalise on such an attractive tie with a bumper crowd.

Boss Davies visited Brussels on Friday to watch Anderlecht beat Belgian Cup holders KAA Gent 1-0 in the Belgian Super Cup.

Steven Gerrard stars for Liverpool against TNS in 2005
Steven Gerrard stars for Liverpool against TNS in 2005

"We must make sure we are still in the tie come the second game next week," said Davies.

"We have an idea of how good they are. We're under no illusions that their playing budget is unbelievable and they have a fantastic squad.

"And for us this match will compare to Liverpool and Manchester City and be a great occasion - and just being in the third qualifying round of the Champions League is an achievement."

Should TNS claim a European giant-killing against Anderlecht and defy the experts, then other European famous names such as Tottenham Hotspur, Sevilla, Sampdoria and Werder Bremen will be next in the Champions League.

TNS will hit the financial jackpot as their European campaign is expected to secure them at least £250,000 and a stellar showdown with the likes of Juventus, Liverpool, PSV Eindhoven and Borussia Dortmund await in the Europa Cup play-off even if they lose.

"If we do go out, and the odds are against us, there are some cracking draws that we could get in the Europa Cup like Liverpool, Juventus, Manchester City and Aston Villa," said Davies.

"But we are focusing on Anderlecht and see what happens. They have some great players like the three-time Belgian player of the year Mbark Boussoufa who is something else.

"So they will be very difficult and we will give it our best shot."



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see also
TNS 1-3 Anderlecht (Tues)
27 Jul 10 |  Europe
TNS manager hails Euro progress
23 Jul 10 |  Welsh
Saints win worth a 'pot of gold'
21 Jul 10 |  Welsh
TNS 4-0 Bohemians (agg 4-1)
20 Jul 10 |  Europe
TNS secure fifth Welsh Prem title
24 Apr 10 |  Welsh


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