At that level 35 winners are joined in the final play-off round by another 41 clubs, including the 15 losing teams for the Champions League third qualifying round, on 20 and 27 August, for a place in the group stages.

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The Albanian Cup winners famously defeated Barcelona 1-0 in a Uefa Cup tie on their home ground 12 years ago, only to lose the away leg 4-1.

One of Latvia's most celebrated players, Māris Verpakovskis has come to the aid of football fans in his home town, stepping into the breach as president of newly-formed FK Liepāja.

The winner of Motherwell and Llanelli will take on Flamurtari Vlore (ties on 16 and 23 July).

"How could I pass by in this very difficult situation?" said the 103-times capped former FC Dynamo Kyiv, Getafe CF, HNK Hajduk Split and RC Celta de Vigo forward. "Firstly, we should say thanks to the new city leaders and to our players. I am happy that together we have saved football in Liepaja, where football has always been popular." A 2-1 win against FS Metta/LU in the first game of the season at the weekend represented an encouraging start for the new side.

Under new Russian coach Viktor Demidov, FC Daugava are eager to improve on their bronze-medal finish last season, while Daugava Rīga's new Lithuanian boss Arvidas Skrupskis should be competing for medals too. FK Jelgava, meanwhile, top the table after one game following a 3-1 victory against FK Jūrmala, new arrival Vladislavs Kozlovs scoring the first hat-trick of the nascent campaign.

The most stable club in Latvia, the new team's regional rivals FK Ventspils had a much quieter off season. Coach Jurgis Pučinskas's charges replaced the key players they lost in the winter, a confident 2-0 opening-day victory against FK Daugava Rīga a measure of their ambition. "We want to achieve the maximum again," club president Guntis Blumbergs told "We will do all we can for Champions League success too. It is important that everybody shares this winning attitude."

Sponsored by a local metalworks who went bankrupt this winter, two-time champions SK Liepājas Metalurgs were forced to resign from the Virsliga, leaving one of the nation's footballing hotbeds without a team. However, the local authorities stepped in to found the new club to fill the gap and persuaded 34-year-old Verpakovskis – who had been playing in Greece for Ergotelis FC – to come back home and become its first president.

From those ties, 38 winners will be joined by 10 losing sides from the Champions League play-off round in 12 groups of four teams.

The Steelmen will play their home legs at Airdrie's Excelsior Stadium since work is done on the Fir Park pitch, while Llanelli may move their home tie to the nearby Parc y Scarlets rugby ground.