Town face Torpedo test

IPSWICH Town have been paired with crack Russian side Torpedo Moscow in the first round of the UEFA Cup and chairman David Sheepshanks said: "It's the toughest draw we could have had in our group.


IPSWICH Town were today paired with crack Russian side Torpedo Moscow in the first round of the UEFA Cup and chairman David Sheepshanks said: "It's the toughest draw we could have had in our group."

The Blues supremo, who watched the draw in Monaco today along with clubs directors and officials, continued: "It is certainly a big welcome back into Europe and we have got to believe we will be successful against them.

"We are a club that has finished fifth in the English Premiership. That in itself should give us confidence to go and compete anywhere.

"We are taking on a very famous club, a club that has a very high profile in Europe. While it is the hardest draw we could have possibly had at this stage, it is also possibly the most interesting."

Ipswich came out of the hat first and will be at home first on Thursday, September 13. The return will be on Thursday, September 27.

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Town have never played in Moscow, but John Duncan's squad flew their in 1988 on route to matches in the Ukraine. The party, that included director Sheepshanks, did some sightseeing in the Russian capital on the return journey.

The Blues chairman continued: "I have mixed emotions regarding our fans. It is a hard place to go as regards accessability. But, having been there, I can assure our fans that it is a great place to go."

Immediately after the draw was made, Sheepshanks and his party went into talks with officials from Moscow Torpedo and travel operators.

He explained: "We are in negotiations with travel operators already. They are the same people who transport Arsenal and their fans into Europe. Airline package deals will soon be put together and there will be announcements next week."

Town manager George Burley said: "It is a very tough draw against a Moscow Torpedo side that will contain many international players. It would have been better to have been away first, but you can't chose these things. The draw has been made, it's a tough one, but we are very much looking forward to it.

"We have been matched with a big name club and no doubt they will give us a very formidable test."

Bobby Ferguson was coach to the Town side that won the UEFA Cup in 1981 by beating AZ 67 Alkmaar of Holland over two legs.

He succeeded Bobby Robson as manager at the club and was in charge when the team last played in Europe in 1982. They lost away 3-0 at Roma in the UEFA Cup and went out despite a magnificent effort to win 3-1 in the return.

Ferguson said: "It's wonderful that Ipswich are back in Europe and I think they can fancy their chances anywhere. They play in the Premiership, which is the toughest league in the world in my opinion, and they will play against sides from a lot of inferior league's.

"Ipswich can go anywhere and feel that they can win. The travelling can sometimes take it out of players. But the whole European experience is marvellous.

"George Burley has done a tremendous job and it is fantastic that the club are back competing in Europe again. We had some great European occasions during my time at Portman Road and the current staff have much to look forward to.

"They are certainly the envy of the majority of the rest of the Premiership clubs, particularly Newcastle who have just failed to qualify from the Inter Toto competition."

Mick Mills, the former Town and England skipper who lifted the UEFA Cup in 1981 at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam, said: "European night's are very special and the Ipswich fans have so much to look forward to.

"My European experience with Town started in 1973 when we draw Real Madrid in the UEFA. It was a remarkable pairing and few thoughts we could over come it but we did.

"The rules have changed now and Ipswich are paired with far lesser an opposition to start their campaign. They have done remarkably well to get into the UEFA Cup and I'm sure they will do well in it."

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