Luck failed to favour the three clubs representing Malta in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League as FA Trophy winners Hibernians were drawn with FK Sarajevo of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Floriana were paired with Swedish side IF Elfsborg while Birkirkara are set to meet FK Metalurg Skopje of FYR Macedonia.
Birkirkara play the first leg at home on July 5 while Floriana and Hibernians play the first leg away from home. The second legs will be played on July 12.
However since two local clubs are scheduled to play on the same day, one of the games could be anticipated to July 10 or 11.
Should they qualify, Hibs will face PFC Levski Sofia; Floriana will meet the winner of the clash between FC Dacia Chi?in?u and NK Celje while Birkirkara would face Ruch Chorzów in the second qualifying round.
Hibernians FC’s opponents in the first qualifying round – 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.
Floriana’s opponents, IF Elfsborg are based in Borås, Sweden. They are currently the leaders in the Swedish top division with thirty points from twelve matches, eight ahead of second placed Malmo FF. 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.
Despite being one of the seeded teams, Birkirkara were unlucky to be paired with one of the top teams among those which were unseeded. FK Metalurg Skopje placed second in the Macedonian top division, nine points behind leaders Vardar.
Metalurg entered the Macedonian First League in the 1992/93 season and were relegated the same year. After playing 15 seasons in the Macedonian Second League they were back in the Macedonian First League for the 2008/09 season. In the 2009/2010 season they finished in 3rd place and played in Europe for the first time in club history but were eliminated by Garabag Agdam of Azerbaijan with a 5-1 aggregate score in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League. Last season, they took part in the same competition but after holding Lokomotiv Sofia of Bulgaria in a goalless draw in the first leg, they suffered a narrow 3-2 defeat in Sofia.
First qualifying round draw (matches to be played on 5 and 12 July)
?nter Bak? P?K (AZE) v JK Trans Narva (EST)
FK Senica (SVK) v MTK Budapest (HUN)
KF Tirana (ALB) v CS Grevenmacher (LUX)
FC Torpedo Kutaisi (GEO) v FC Aktobe (KAZ)
FK Borac Banja Luka (BIH) v FK ?elik Nikši? (MNE)
Bak? FK (AZE) v NK Mura (SVN)
IF Elfsborg (SWE) v Floriana FC (MLT)
FK Renova (MKD) v AC Libertas (SMR)
FC Santa Coloma (AND) v NK Osijek (CRO)
FK Jagodina (SRB) v FC Ordabasy Shymkent (KAZ)
FC Differdange 03 (LUX) v NSÍ Runavík (FRO)
Rosenborg BK (NOR) v Crusaders FC (NIR)
Myllykosken Pallo-47 (FIN) v Cefn Druids AFC (WAL)
FC Šiauliai (LTU) v FC Levadia Tallinn (EST)
Bohemian FC (IRL) v Thór Akureyri (ISL)
FK Sarajevo (BIH) v Hibernians FC (MLT)
FC Twente (NED) v UE Santa Coloma (AND)
FK Rudar Pljevlja (MNE) v FC Shirak (ARM)
KS Flamurtari (ALB) v Budapest Honvéd FC (HUN)
FC Dacia Chi?in?u (MDA) v NK Celje (SVN)
FK S?duva (LTU) v FC Daugava (LVA)
KuPS Kuopio (FIN) v Llanelli AFC (WAL)
Kalmar FF (SWE) v Cliftonville FC (NIR)
Vikingur (FRO) v FC Gomel (BLR)
FH Hafnarfjördur (ISL) v FC USV Eschen-Mauren (LIE)
KKS Lech Pozna? (POL) v FC Zhetysu Taldykorgan (KAZ)
Xäzär Länkäran FK (AZE) v JK Nõmme Kalju (EST)
Birkirkara FC (MLT) v FK Metalurg Skopje (MKD)
FK Zeta (MNE) v FC Pyunik (ARM)
KS Teuta (ALB) v FC Metalurgi Rustavi (GEO)
NK Olimpija Ljubljana (SVN) v AS Jeunesse Esch (LUX)
EB/Streymur (FRO) v FC Gandzasar Kapan (ARM)
Saint Patrick’s Athletic FC (IRL) v ÍBV Vestmannaeyjar (ISL)
SK Liep?jas Metalurgs (LVA) v SP La Fiorita (SMR)
JJK Jyväskylä (FIN) v Stabæk Fotball (NOR)
FC Zimbru Chi?in?u (MDA) v Bangor City FC (WAL)
FK Skendija 79 (MKD) v Portadown FC (NIR)
Second qualifying round (19 and 26 July)
Xäzär Länkäran FK (AZE)/JK Nõmme Kalju (EST) v KKS Lech Pozna? (POL)/FC Zhetysu Taldykorgan (KAZ)
N4* (TUR) v Saint Johnstone FC (SCO)
HNK Hajduk Split (CRO) v Skonto FC (LVA)
AIK Solna (SWE) v FH Hafnarfjördur (ISL)/FC USV Eschen-Mauren (LIE)
FK Renova (MKD)/AC Libertas (SMR) v Vikingur (FRO)/FC Gomel (BLR)
FC Naftan Novopolotsk (BLR) v FK Crvena Zvezda (SRB)
FK Vojvodina (SRB) v FK S?duva (LTU)/FC Daugava (LVA)
JJK Jyväskylä (FIN)/Stabæk Fotball (NOR) v FK Zeta (MNE)/FC Pyunik (ARM)
BSC Young Boys (SUI) v FC Zimbru Chi?in?u (MDA)/Bangor City FC (WAL)
PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv 1936 (BUL) v Vitesse (NED)
KF Tirana (ALB)/CS Grevenmacher (LUX) v Aalesunds FK (NOR)
FC Metalurh Donetsk (UKR) v FK Borac Banja Luka (BIH)/FK ?elik Nikši? (MNE)
Maccabi Netanya FC (ISR) v KuPS Kuopio (FIN)/Llanelli AFC (WAL)
FK Mladá Boleslav (CZE) v Bohemian FC (IRL) /Thór Akureyri (ISL)
FC Šiauliai (LTU)/FC Levadia Tallinn (EST) v Anorthosis Famagusta FC (CYP)
FC Milsami Orhei (MDA) v FC Torpedo Kutaisi (GEO)/FC Aktobe (KAZ)
NK Slaven Koprivnica (CRO) v FK Skendija 79 (MKD)/Portadown FC (NIR)
Servette FC (SUI) v EB/Streymur (FRO)/ FC Gandzasar Kapan (ARM)
FC Twente (NED)/UE Santa Coloma (AND) v FC Inter Turku (FIN)
VMFD Žalgiris (LTU) v VfB Admira Wacker Mödling (AUT)
FC Santa Coloma (AND)/NK Osijek (CRO) v Kalmar FF (SWE)/Cliftonville FC (NIR)
ŠK Slovan Bratislava (SVK) v Videoton FC (HUN)
FC Rapid Bucure?ti (ROU) v Myllykosken Pallo-47 (FIN)/Cefn Druids AFC (WAL)
FC Viktoria Plze? (CZE) v KS Teuta (ALB)/FC Metalurgi Rustavi (GEO)
Bak? FK (AZE)/NK Mura (SVN) v PFC CSKA Sofia (BUL)
?nter Bak? P?K (AZE)/JK Trans Narva (EST) v Asteras Tripolis FC (GRE)
KAA Gent (BEL) v FC Differdange 03 (LUX)/NSÍ Runavík (FRO)
FC Anzhi Makhachkala (RUS) v KS Flamurtari (ALB)/Budapest Honvéd FC (HUN)
PFC Levski Sofia (BUL) v FK Sarajevo (BIH)/Hibernians FC (MLT)
SK Liep?jas Metalurgs (LVA)/SP La Fiorita (SMR) v Legia Warszawa (POL)
FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk (BLR) v SV Ried (AUT)
Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv FC (ISR) v FK Rudar Pljevlja (MNE)/FC Shirak (ARM)
Rosenborg BK (NOR)/Crusaders FC (NIR) v FK Jagodina (SRB)/FC Ordabasy Shymkent (KAZ)
FC Spartak Trnava (SVK) v Sligo Rovers FC (IRL)
FC Dacia Chi?in?u (MDA) v NK Celje (SVN) v IF Elfsborg (SWE)/Floriana FC (MLT)
NK Široki Brijeg (BIH) v Saint Patrick’s Athletic FC (IRL)/ÍBV Vestmannaeyjar (ISL)
APOEL FC (CYP) v FK Senica (SVK) v MTK Budapest (HUN)
Ruch Chorzów (POL) v Birkirkara FC (MLT)/FK Metalurg Skopje (MKD)
AGF Århus (DEN) v FC Dila Gori (GEO)
NK Olimpija Ljubljana (SVN)/AS Jeunesse Esch (LUX) v Tromsø IL (NOR)
*N4 (TUR) Subject to CAS decision