Europe will be tough battle, wherever the St Johnstone march

ST JOHNSTONE look to have it tough to progress to the third qualifying round of the Europa League, whatever the second round draw throws up tomorrow.

The Perth club will not be seeded for their first tilt at European competition since 1999 and possible opponents include the 2010 Dutch champions Twente Enschede – assuming they negotiate the first batch of qualifiers.

Also lurking are last season’s Champions League quarter-finalists APOEL Nicosia and Anzhi Makhachkala, the Dagestan club dubbed the Manchester City of the east. There are 13 other sides from countries boasting a higher co-efficient than Scotland.

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St Johnstone chairman Steven Brown is travelling to Switzerland for the draw and the matches on Thursday 19 July and the following week, will be only Saints’ third European campaign.

They are, though, unbeaten at home in the five European ties they have played. In the 1970-71 UEFA Cup, they accounted for Germans Hamburg and then Hungarians Vasas Budapest before succumbing to Yugoslavs NK Zeljeznicar Sarajevo. Their defeat to Monaco in the UEFA Cup 13 years ago, was reward for seeing off Finnish team VPS Vaasa.

This time, the lowest-ranked side they could face is Vojvodina Novi Sad of Serbia, while among the supposed easier teams are Croatians Slaven Koprivinica, and Norwegians Stabaek and Tromso.

Among the seeds, too, are other dangerous teams, Lech Poznan, Rosenborg, Young Boys, Metalurg Dontesk, Legia Warsaw, Red Star Belgrade, Vitesse Arnhem, Rapid Bucharest and AIK Stockholm.

If only for sheer adventure and fascination value, a tie with Anzhi Makhachkala would be hard to top. The club is owned by Suleyman Kerimov, whose worth is estimated by Forbes as above £5 billion. He has made Samuel Eto’o the world’s highest paid footballer on £320,000 a week, following a £25m transfer fee.

Guus Hiddink was recruited as manager in February but only after Jose Mourinho couldn’t be tempted to leave Real Madrid for a £20m wage packet.

The instability in the North Caucusus results in Anzhi’s players making a 2,000 mile round-trip to Makhachkala for home games from their training and living base near Moscow.

Anzhi have only played one game in Europe, against Rangers in 2001, UEFA scrapping their standard home-and-away format for a one-game decider between the teams staged in Warsaw and won by Dick Advocaat’s side.