Jose Mourinho to take Fenerbahce to Switzerland for Champions League debut with his new club

NYON, Switzerland (AP) — Jose Mourinho’s Champions League debut as coach of Fenerbahce will be in Switzerland in the second qualifying round next month.

Fenerbahce was drawn Wednesday to play Lugano with the first leg in Thun on July 23 or 24. The return game is in Istanbul the following week between teams who finished second in their national league.

Mourinho was hired this month on an $11 million annual salary to try to win Fenerbahce’s first Turkish league title since 2014.

His first competitive game should be in the Champions League where the storied Istanbul club must advance through three qualifying rounds to reach the revamped 36-team league stage.

Mourinho should have some star players back from the European Championship: Mert Müldür scored the first goal for Turkey in a thrilling 3-1 win over Georgia on Wednesday, Dominik Livaković is the goalkeeper for Croatia and playmaker Dušan Tadićis with Serbia.

Fenerbahce’s captain is veteran Bosnian forward Edin Džeko.

Lugano has winger Renato Steffen with Switzerland and forward Žan Celar in the Slovenia squad. The team from the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland will play home games in German-speaking city Thun because its own stadium currently does not meet UEFA standards.

UEFA has a qualifying path to the Champions League for teams who did not win their domestic title in a high-ranked league. Also Wednesday, Dynamo Kyiv was paired with Partizan of Serbia.


AP soccer:

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