Wayne Rooney could play the first competitive match of his Everton return against either Slovakia’s Ruzomberok or Brann of Norway, after the draw for the Europa League third qualifying round yesterday.
Rooney scored with a fantastic 30-yard strike in a 2-1 win in his first game back in an Everton shirt against Kenyans Gor Mahia in a pre-season friendly on Thursday. Norwegian runners-up Brann, who lead the second qualifying round tie against Ruzomberok 1-0, are 16 games into their domestic league season, and would travel to Goodison Park for the first leg on July 27 in full swing if they go through.
Everton beat Brann 8-1 on aggregate in the last 32 of the 2007-2008 UEFA Cup in their only previous meetings. Should Ronald Koeman’s side emerge victorious from the two-legged tie, they would go into a play-off for the group stages.
AC Milan are also in the qualifiers and were drawn agaimst CSU Craiova of Romania.
Everton received a warm welcome after arriving in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday with large numbers of Tanzanian football fans eager to greet Rooney and his new teammates. In May, Everton announced they had penned a five-year sponsorship deal with SportPesa to succeed Thai brewing company Chang.
SportPesa, which is looking to increase its visibility through the Premier League, is further strengthening its ties with the city of Liverpool by moving its European headquarters there.
The Kenyan company were Hull City’s shirt sponsors last season, but the Tigers were relegated from the top flight at the end of the 2016-17 campaign.
SportPesa also has partnerships with Arsenal and Southampton.
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