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Who Are Shamrock Rovers' Conference League Group Opponents?

Who Are Shamrock Rovers' Conference League Group Opponents?
By Luke Delaney Updated
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Shamrock Rovers will play in Group F of the Europa Conference League alongside Belgian side Gent, Norweigan side Molde and Swedish outfit Djurgarden.

Rovers' supporters will be quietly confident ahead of the group stage campaign after their recent form at home in Europe and with them avoiding the likes of Villareal and West Ham.

Shamrock Rovers' road to the group stage

The Hoops started their European qualifying campaign with a 3-0 aggregate win over Maltese side Hibernians in the Champions League First Round Qualifying. After this, Bulgarian side Ludogorets were drawn against Stephen Bradley's side. After a disappointing 3-0 defeat away from home in the first leg, it left a lot for the Irish side to do.

The Tallaght Stadium outfit beat their opponents 2-1 on the night, but exited the competition. Shamrock Rovers then entered the third qualifying round of the Europa League and progressed to the playoff round after a 5-2 aggregate victory over FK Shkupi, guaranteeing group stage European football for Shamrock Rovers.

Hungarian side Ferencvaros were next up for Rovers, but similarly to their tie against Ludogorets, a 4-0 trashing away from home quickly put the League of Ireland champions' Europa League ambitions in doubt.

On Thursday night, an Andy Lyons goal did secure a 1-0 win for Shamrock Rovers, but it wasn't enough for Rovers. Shamrock Rovers' supporters could have had a trip to Monaco to look forward to if they managed to get something out of the playoff game. Ferencvaros were drawn with AS Monaco, Red Star Belgrade and Trabzonspor.

It's just the fourth time that an Irish side will take part in the group stages of a European competition. Shamrock Rovers became the first in 2011, followed by Dundalk in 2016 and 2020.

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It's also been confirmed that all three of Shamrock Rovers' home games will be played at Tallaght Stadium. All six fixtures for the Hoops will be broadcast on Virgin Media.

Who are Shamrock Rovers' opponents?

KAA Gent (Belgium)

Gent are the highest seeded team in Group F, being pulled out of Pot 1. Last season, they finished in third place of the Belgian Pro League, finishing ahead of the likes of Anderlecht, Royal Antwerp and Genk.

Gent progressed through last season's Europa Conference League group stages and made it to the round of 16, where they were ultimately defeated by PAOK. Gent did lift silverware last season, beating an Anderlecht side under the guidance of Vincent Kompany on penalties to win their fourth ever Belgian Cup.

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Their only ever league title came back in the 2014/15 season.

Last night, KAA Gent fell to a 2-0 defeat (4-0 on aggregate) at the hands of Neil Lennon's Omonia Nicosia, ending their ambitions of Europa league football.

They have been known for producing some of the best Belgian players of recent generations through their academy, including Kevin De Bruyne and Dries Mertens. Manager Hein Vanhaezebrouck returned to the club in 2020 after leaving to manage rivals Anderlecht in 2017.

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Shamrock Rovers' Europa Conference League Group F opponents KAA Gent

Molde (Norway)

Norweigan side Molde are sitting in first place of the Eliteserien, five points clear of Lillestrom in second. Should they manage to see the season out in the same form they've shown so far, it will lead to their fifth league title in their history. Molde finished the 2021 season just three points off winners Bodo/ Glimt.

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Their best European campaign came back in 2020/21 where they reached the last 16 of the Europa League where they lost 3-2 on aggregate to Granada.

After overcoming Elfsborg and Kisvarda in the opening rounds, they had to overturn a 1-0 defecit from their first leg tie against Austrian side Wolfsberg last night. Molde ended up beating Wolfsberg 4-0, landing them a spot in the draw.

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer played for the club until 1996, when he was signed by Manchester United. Ole returned to manage the club between 2011 and 2014 and returned the following year for another three year stint.

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In 2018, Solksjaer replaced Jose Mourinho as manager at Old Trafford. Manager Erling Moe is still the man in charge at the club since taking over in 2018.

Former Chelsea and Barcelona striker Eidur Gudjohnsen also had a stint with the club in 2016 towards the latter stages of the Iceland international's career.

Djurgarden (Sweden)

Shamrock Rovers' final opponents come in the form of Swedish side Djurgarden. They  qualified for the Europa Conference League with a third place finish in the league last season, finishing ahead of rivals Malmo.

Founded in 1891, they've won 12 Allsvenskan titles and five Swedish cups. Their most recent league title came in 2019, a year after they won the cup.

SEE ALSO: Vera Pauw Names Ireland WNT Squad For Pivotal World Cup Qualifiers

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