Ipswich to play in UEFA Cup next season

IPSWICH will be playing in the UEFA Cup this year.

Elvin King

IPSWICH will be playing in the UEFA Cup this year.

Before Blues football fans start booking flights and making hotel bookings - it is Jorge Ribiero's Ipswich Wolves and not Jim Magilton's Ipswich Town who will be flying the flag in Europe.

Ribiero's side made up of Portuguese players plus one Brazilian won their way into the UEFA Futsal Cup by winning the English Futsal FA Cup last year.

Futsal is a five-a-side indoor game with Wolves the only English representatives in Europe this season.

They have been drawn in the same preliminary UEFA group as hosts FC Nadin Sofia (Bulgaria) and KMF Elita Tetovo (Macedonia) with games to be played by August 17.

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The winners of that round will travel to Azerbajan in the next round where they will play hosts Araz Naxcivan, Slov-Matic Fofo Bratislava (Slovakia), and Skovde AIK (Sweden). These matches must be completed by September 14.

“We are really looking forward to the trip and to represent Ipswich abroad,” said player Armindo Santos.

“We don't know the strengths of the opposition we will meet, but many clubs on the continent are professionals.

“Travelling arrangements have not been made yet, but we are expecting our costs to be met.

“It is the first time we have qualified for Europe so we are unsure of the full procedures.

“Our manager is looking to bring in English players from the Ipswich area and the plan is to include them next season.”

Ipswich Wolves are defending their British Futsal FA Cup this weekend with 32 teams descending on the English Institute Of Sport in Sheffield to contest this year's final.

Qualification has been taking place over the last few months and this weekend's event should provide an indication of the rise in standard of Futsal in England.

Many of the participating teams also take part in the FA Regional Futsal Leagues.

This weekend's winners will not gain automatic entry into the UEFA Cup this time with a different format now in operation.

“We are hoping to retain our trophy, and also to take the next step towards 2009/10 UEFA qualification,” added Santos, who confirmed that Ribiero will have a full squad at his disposal.

Ipswich will start favourites with Ribiero having assembled a formidable team from the Portuguese community in Suffolk.

London White Bear appear best placed to challenge the Wolves, as they have dominated The FA Southern League this year and have again assembled a formidable squad of Eastern European and talented English players.