Liverpool plays Haifa in Champions League qualifying

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Liverpool was drawn on Friday to play Israeli club Maccabi Haifa in Champions League qualifying.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:35 IST
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Nyon, Switzerland:

Liverpool was drawn on Friday to play Israeli club Maccabi Haifa in Champions League qualifying, a day after UEFA asked Israel for safety guarantees in hosting soccer matches. Liverpool, the 2005 champion, will host Maccabi Haifa on August 8 or 9, with the return leg scheduled in Israel on August 22 or 23. The game could be moved to another country in view of the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. UEFA wrote to the Israeli soccer federation this week asking for safety guarantees and to make contingencies for relocating games to other countries. It did not give a deadline. UEFA lifted a ban on home matches in Israel in 2004, on condition that games only be played in the Tel Aviv area. In 2002, Maccabi Haifa - the first Israeli club to reach the group stages of the Champions League - had to play its home games in Nicosia, Cyprus. Also in the 16-club draw made at UEFA headquarters was AC Milan, which was drawn to play either Ireland's Cork City or Serbia's Red Star Belgrade. UEFA allowed the six-time champion to take part in the draw after it successfully appealed against punishment it received in Italy's match-fixing scandal which would have barred it from taking part in the Champions League. However, a final decision on whether the club can play in this year's competition will be made by next Wednesday. Milan and Italy's national federation will have a chance to argue their case for the club's inclusion while UEFA's emergency panel takes more time to examine the issue. Any UEFA decision will be subject to possible appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, world sport's highest tribunal. Arsenal, last year's runner-up, will play either Lithuania's Ekranas or Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia. Four-time champion Ajax was drawn against either Denmark's FC Copenhagen or Myllykosken Pallo-47 of Finland. Spain's Valencia was drawn against either FC Zurich or Red Bull Salzburg. The winners will go through to September's group stage, where they will join 16 teams, which have automatically qualified, including reigning champion FC Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester United and Bayern Munich. (AP)