Hibernians and Floriana have two difficult tasks as they face FK Sarajevo of Bosnia-Herzegovina and IF Elfsborg respectively in the first leg of the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday.
Floriana have a massive task ahead of them as they take on Swedish top division leaders IF Elfsborg in the first leg of the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League at the Boras Arena on Thursday, kick-off at 18:00.
The Greens lost the three Euro Cup matches against Valletta, Birkirkara and Hibernians, suffering eight goals and scoring two. But what was most worrying was the lack of depth in the squad despite the fact that player/coach Ivan Woods had a number of foreigners on trial, namely Spanish duo Antonio De La Torre and Alejandro Bolanos Garcia, Equatoguinean Kelvin Onosiughe and Albanians Bledjon Guga, Erlis Frasheri and Ermir Strati.
IF Elfsborg are currently the leaders in the Swedish top division with thirty points from twelve matches, five ahead of second placed Malmo FF but last Saturday suffered a heavy 5-1 defeat to Atvidaberg. Last season, they finished third on 57 points, six behind leaders Helsingborg. In its history, the club won five championships, the latest in 2006, and two cups.
Elfsborg’s best run in European football was in season 2007/08 when they eliminated Linfield of Northern Ireland and DVSC Debrecen of Hungary in the first two rounds of the UEFA Champions League but after being eliminated by Valencia, they entered the first round of the UEFA Cup, beating Dinamo Bucharest of Romania to reach the group stage.
Last season, they reached the third round of the UEFA Europa League, defeating CS Fola Esch of Luxembourg and Suduva Marijampole of Lithuania.
On the other hand, Hibernians meet FK Sarajevo at the Asim Ferhatovi? Hase Stadion, Sarajevo, kick-off at 19:30.
The Paolites finished the season in a perfect way as they defeated Qormi to claim the U*BET FA Trophy. In June, they continued where they had left by winning the Euro Cup after defeating Birkirkara 5-0, Valletta 1-0 and Floriana 3-1 to win the first competition for season 2012/13.
FK Sarajevo placed fourth in the Premier Liga in Bosnia-Herzegovina with 54 points, seventeen behind champions Željezni?ar. In their history, they won two Yugoslav championships and two championships and three cups since Bosnia Herzegovina obtained independence.
This is the second time, FK Sarajevo were paired with a Maltese club as in 2007/08, they were drawn with Marsaxlokk in the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round, beating them 6-0 at Ta’ Qali and 3-1 at home. They went on to eliminate Racing Genk of Belgium on the away goals rule and then lost 0-4 on aggregate to Dinamo Kiev of Ukraine. In the UEFA Cup first round, they were eliminated by FC Basel.
Their best run took place in 2009/10, when they reached the fourth round of the UEFA Europa League after eliminating Helsingborg IF of Sweden and CFR Cluj or Romania. Last season, they eliminated Örebro SK of Sweden in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League but were ousted by Sparta Praha of the Czech Republic.