Europa Conference League draw: Sivasspor coach braced for difficult return after earthquake horror

By Sports Desk February 24, 2023

Sivasspor coach Riza Calimbay acknowledged it will be tough for Super Lig teams to return to football as his side drew Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League.

Turkey's top flight was suspended in the wake of the February 6 earthquakes that devastated the country and neighbouring Syria, leaving over 50,000 dead.

Having topped Group G in the Europa Conference League last year, Sivasspor bypassed the competition's knockout round play-off phase this month.

But as they prepare for domestic competition to restart this weekend ahead of their return to Europe, Calimbay noted it would be a very different game that emerges.

"It is very difficult to talk after the earthquake," he told the club's website. "Talking about football is very difficult. I think our problems are not over yet.

"We need to start playing football [but] the league will be chaotic, everything will be chaotic. Some matches will not be played. It will be a different league, it will be a sad league.

"Every time we play a match, everyone will have tears. No one can give themselves fully to the game. But our teams that go to Europe, we have to do whatever is necessary to bring points to Turkey."

Sivasspor's fellow Super Lig side Istanbul Basaksehir will also return to Europa Conference League action, having drawn Gent in the last-16 stage.

Elsewhere, Premier League outfit West Ham face off with AEK Larnaca, while Serie A team Lazio will take on AZ after edging out CFR Cluj.

Villarreal take on Anderlecht, with Nice set to square off with Sheriff.

Basel face Slovan Bratislava and Lech Poznan encounter Djurgarden in the remaining ties, with home and away legs set to be played over March 9 and 16.

Europa League last-16 draw in full:

AEK Larnaca v West Ham
Anderlecht v Villarreal
Basel v Slovan Bratislava
Fiorentina v Sivasspor
Gent v Istanbul Basaksehir
Lazio v AZ
Lech Poznan v Djurgarden
Sheriff v Nice

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