Premier League runners-up Birkirkara were paired with KS Vllaznia of Albania in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League while Floriana will be facing AEK Larnaca of Cyprus. The draws were held at the UEFA Headquarters in Nyon on Monday.
First qualifying round matches will be played on on 30 June and 7 July while the second qualifying round matches are scheduled for 14 and 21 July.
For the first qualifying round equal numbers of seeded and unseeded teams were allocated to five groups of ten in accordance with rankings established at the beginning of the season. Birkirkara were among the seeded teams.
The 80 teams involved in the second qualifying round, including Floriana, were divided into eight groups of ten, each containing five seeded and five unseeded teams. Floriana were among the unseeded teams in the second qualifying round draw.
Birkirkara vs Vllaznia
This will be the second time, Birkirkara will be facing a team from Albania. In the UEFA Cup first qualifying round in 2004, the Stripes lost 4-5 on aggregate to Partizani Tirana.
Klub Futboll Vllaznia Shkodër are based in Shkodër, Albania. KF Vllaznia, who were founded in 1919 – making them the second oldest club in Albania, have been Albanian champions nine times and won the National Cup six times, the last success coming at the end of the 2007-08 season, after a long 21 year drought in the competition.
They took part in a European competition for the first time in 1978 and the first time they reached a further round was in 1987 when they eliminated Sliema Wanderers from the Cup Winners Cup beating them 2-0 and home and 4-0 at Ta’ Qali. In 2001, they reached the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League after beating KR Reykjavik of Iceland on the away goals rule following a 2-1 defeat in Iceland and a 1-0 at home. In 2008, they managed to eliminate NK Koper of Slovenia from the first qualifying round of the UEFA Cup with a 2-1 aggregate score and the following year, they eliminated Sligo Rovers of Ireland with a 3-2 aggregate score in the same competition.
Last season, Vllaznia placed third in the Albanian Superliga on 59 points, fourteen behind champions Skënderbeu Korçë and seven behind runners-up Flamurtari Vlorë.
The first leg will be played at the Hibs Stadium on June 30 while the second leg will be played in Shkoder on July 7.
Should Birkirkara reach the second qualifying round, they would meet FC Thun of Switzerland.
FC Thun was founded in 1898. After playing mainly in the Nationalliga B, in 2002, they made it to the Nationalliga A, which was renamed to Axpo Super League. In 2008, the club were relegated to the Swiss Challenge League.
On 23 August 2005, FC Thun wrote Swiss football history. It qualified for the group stages of the UEFA Champions League by beating first FC Dynamo Kyiv and then Malmö FF at home 3-0 after having won in Malmö 0-1. Apart from Grasshoppers, Zürich and FC Basel, FC Thun is the only Swiss football team to reach the group stages of the Champions League, and the smallest club ever to enter the tournament. Only nine years earlier, Thun were playing amateur third division football in front of crowds of 100.
FC Thun is the only team which participated in the UEFA Champions League group stage, without ever winning a domestic or European prize.
Floriana vs AEK Larnaca
AEK Larnaca are coached by former Valletta coach Ton Caanen while Jordi Cruijff is the team manager. Former Malta international defender Luke Dimech and Njongo Priso are on the books of the Cypriot club which finished fourth in the Championship Pool in Cyprus on 42 points, 32 behind champions APOEL, 21 behind Omonia Nicosia and 13 behind Anorthosis.
AEK Larnaca FC are based in Larnaca, Cyprus. The club was formed in 1994 after a merger of two Larnaca clubs: EPA Larnaca and Pezoporikos.
AEK Larnaca won their first Cypriot Cup in 2004 beating AEL Limassol 2-1. They reached two more times the Cup final, but both times were beaten by APOEL FC; in 1996, 2-0 in extra time and in 2006, 3-2. It is their only title as AEK until now. The two clubs that led to the merger, EPA Larnaca FC and Pezoporikos Larnaca, also enjoyed separate success on their own, with the first winning three championship titles, five cups and one Super Cup, while Pezoporikos won two leagues and one cup.
This is only the third time they are taking part in UEFA competitions. In the Cup Winners’ Cup 1996/97, they eliminated Kotaik Abovyan of Armenia with a 5-1 aggregate score from the qualifying round but then lost 0-2 to Barcelona in the first round proper. In the UEFA Cup 2004/05, they defeated Maccabi Petah Tikva 3-0 at home but lost 4-0 away from home to move out of the competition.
First qualifying round draw (30 June and 7 July)
1 KR Reykjavík (ISL) v ÍF Fuglafjørdur (FRO)
2 FC Daugava Daugavpils (LVA) v Tromsø IL (NOR)
3 IL Elfsborg (SWE) v CS Fola Esch (LUX)
4 The New Saints FC (WAL) v Cliftonville FC (NIR)
5 FC Honka Espoo (FIN) v JK Nõmme Kalju (EST)
6 Fulham FC (ENG)* v NSÍ Runavík (FRO)
7 ÍBV Vestmannaeyjar (ISL) v Saint Patrick’s Athletic FC (IRL)
8 BK Häcken (SWE)* v UN Käerjéng 97 (LUX)
9 Aalesunds FK (NOR)* v Neath FC (WAL)
10 FK Renova (MKD) v Glentoran FC (NIR)
11 FC Koper (SVN) v FC Shakhter Karagandy (KAZ)
12 FK Banga (LTU) v Qaraba? FK (AZE)
13 Paksi SE (HUN) v UE Santa Coloma (AND)
14 FK Rabotnicki (MKD) v JK Trans Narva (EST)
15 FK Rad (SRB) v SP Tre Penne (SMR)
16 FK Budu?nost Podgorica (MNE) v KS Flamurtari (ALB)
17 Ulisses FC (ARM) v Ferencvárosi TC (HUN)
18 Jagiellonia Bia?ystok (POL) v FC Irtysh Pavlodar (KAZ)
19 FC Minsk (BLR) v Olimpik-?üvälan PFK (AZE)
20 FC Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v FC Milsami Orhei (MDA)
21 NK Varaždin (CRO) v FC Lusitans (AND)
22 FC Banants (ARM) v Metalurgi Rustavi (GEO)
23 Birkirkara FC (MLT) v KS Vllaznia (ALB)
24 NK Široki Brijeg (BIH) v NK Olimpija Ljubljana (SVN)
25 FC Spartak Trnava (SVK) v FK Zeta (MNE)
*Respect Fair Play entrants
Second qualifying round draw (14 and 21 July)
1 FC Banants (ARM)/Metalurgi Rustavi (GEO) v Jagiellonia Bia?ystok (POL)/FC Irtysh Pavlodar (KAZ)
2 FK S?duva (LTU) v IL Elfsborg (SWE)/CS Fola Esch (LUX)
3 FK Metalurg Skopje (MKD) v PFC Lokomotiv Sofia (BUL)
4 UE Sant Julià (AND) v Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv FC (ISR)
5 FK Željezni?ar (BIH) v FC Sheriff (MDA)
6 KuPS Kuopio (FIN) v AS Gaz Metan Media? (ROU)
7 FC Minsk (BLR)/Olimpik-?üvälan PFK (AZE) v Gaziantepspor (TUR)
8 FC Iskra-Stal (MDA) v NK Varaždin (CRO)/FC Lusitans (AND)
9 FK Tauras (LTU) v ADO Den Haag (NED)
10 FK Renova (MKD)/Glentoran FC (NIR) v FC Vorskla Poltava (UKR)
11 AC Juvenese-Dogana (SMR) v FK Rabotnicki (MKD)/JK Trans Narva (EST)
12 Örebro SK (SWE) v FK Sarajevo (BIH)
13 Crusaders FC (NIR) v Fulham FC (ENG)/NSÍ Runavík (FRO)
14 Llanelli AFC (WAL) v FC Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO)/FC Milsami Orhei (MDA)
15 Floriana FC (MLT) v AEK Larnaca FC (CYP)
16 FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk (BLR) v FK Ventspils (LVA)
17 FK Budu?nost Podgorica (MNE)/KS Flamurtari (ALB) v FK Jablonec (CZE)
18 KR Reykjavík (ISL)/ÍF Fuglafjørdur (FRO) v MŠK Žilina (SVK)
19 FC Mika (ARM) v Vålerenga Fotball (NOR)
20 NK Široki Brijeg (BIH)/NK Olimpija Ljubljana (SVN) v Bohemian FC (IRL)
21 NK Domžale (SVN) v RNK Split (CRO)
22 FC Differdange 03 (LUX) v FC Levadia Tallinn (EST)
23 KF Tirana (ALB) v FC Spartak Trnava (SVK)/FK Zeta (MNE)
24 Ulisses FC (ARM)/Ferencvárosi TC (HUN) v Aalesunds FK (NOR)/Neath FC (WAL)
25 SK Liep?jas Metalurgs (LVA) v FC Salzburg (AUT)
26 FK Rad (SRB)/SP Tre Penne (SMR) v Olympiacos Volou FC (GRE)
27 The New Saints FC (WAL)/Cliftonville FC (NIR) v FC Midtjylland (DEN)
28 Kecskeméti TE (HUN) v FC Aktobe (KAZ)
29 BK Häcken (SWE)/UN Käerjéng 97 (LUX) v FC Honka Espoo (FIN)/JK Nõmme Kalju (EST)
30 FC Gagra (GEO) v Anorthosis Famagusta FC (CYP)
31 FC Vaduz (LIE) v FK Vojvodina (SRB)
32 FK Rudar Pljevlja (MNE) v FK Austria Wien (AUT)
33 WKS ?l?sk Wroc?aw (POL) v Dundee United FC (SCO)
34 FC Koper (SVN)/FC Shakhter Karagandy (KAZ) v ÍBV Vestmannaeyjar (ISL)/Saint Patrick’s Athletic FC (IRL)
35 EB/Streymur (FRO) v FK Banga (LTU)/Qaraba? FK (AZE)
36 FH Hafnarfjördur (ISL) v CD Nacional (POR)
37 Paksi SE (HUN)/UE Santa Coloma (AND) v FC Daugava Daugavpils (LVA)/Tromsø IL (NOR)
38 TPS Turku (FIN) v KVC Westerlo (BEL)
39 Xäzär Länkäran FK (AZE) v Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC (ISR)
40 Birkirkara FC (MLT)/KS Vllaznia (ALB) v FC Thun (SUI)