Dundalk will face Qarabag if they can beat FC Riga
If they lose to Riga they could face BATE Borisov in the Europa League
Qarabag in action against Chelsea at the Baku Olympic stadium in the 2017 Champions League. Photograph: Getty Images
Dundalk face the slightly daunting prospect of a trip to Baku and to play Azerbaijani champions Qarabag if they can beat FC Riga in the first round of the Champions League qualifiers.
In Wednesday’s second round draw, the winners of Dundalk’s first round tie were paired with either Qarabag or Albanian outfit Partizani.
Qarabag will start as firm favourites to come through that and would represent formidable opponents for the League of Ireland champions.
The club had recently completed a sixth straight league and cup double at home, and having attracted very substantial sponsorship in the oil rich state in recent times, they have qualified for the group stages of one or other of the European club competitions every season since 2014/15.
Two years ago, they made their only appearance to date in the Champions League group stages and while they lost the four games played against Roma and Chelsea, they drew home and away with Atletico Madrid.
If Dundalk qualify for the second round, the games will take place in the last week of July and first week of August. Vinny Perth’s side has been drawn to play at home first.
If the Irish league leaders lost to Riga, they will have to face either BATE Borisov of Belarus or Polish champions Piast Gliwice in the second round of the Europa League.