Champions Hibernians were paired with FCI Tallinn of Estonia in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League following the draw which was held in Nyon on Monday. This is the first time clubs from Malta and Estonia are facing each other in a major UEFA club competition.
Ties are to be played on 27/28 June and 4/5 July with the Paolites playing the first leg at home.
The winner of the clash between Hibernians and FCI Tallinn will be facing FC Salzburg of Austria. The first leg will be played at home. Second qualifying round matches are scheduled for July 11/12 and 18/19.
FCI Tallinn (Football Club Infonet Tallinn) are based in the capital of Estonia, Tallinn. Founded in 2002, the club has played in the Meistriliiga since the 2013 season and have never been relegated from the Estonian top division. The club won the league in the 2016 season.
Before the 2011 season, the club merged with Esiliiga club FC Atletik. Infonet won the 2012 Esiliiga season and were promoted to the top tier Meistriliiga. Infonet finished its first season in the Estonian top division with 6th place. Infonet made their European debut in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League, but were defeated by Scottish Heart of Midlothian 3–6 on aggregate in the first qualifying round.
Infonet won the 2016 Meistriliiga season, amassing 80 points. They also won the Estonian Cup in 2016/17 and the Estonian Supercup in 2017.
Hibernians, on the other hand, have been taking part in UEFA competitions since 1961/62 when they met Servette Geneva of Switzerland in the Champions Cup.
They qualified for a further round of a UEFA competition on two occasions. In 1971, they eliminated Fram Reykjavik of Iceland with a 3-2 aggregate score in the qualifying round of the Cup Winners Cup while in 2022, they eliminated Shelbourne of Ireland with a 3-2 aggregate score in the first qualifying round of the Champions League. Last season, they were eliminated by Maccabi Tel-Aviv after winning 2-1 at the Hibs Stadium and losing 1-5 in Tel-Aviv in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League.
FC Red Bull Salzburg are based in Wals-Siezenheim. The club was known as SV Austria Salzburg, and had several sponsored names, before being bought by Red Bull GmbH in 2005 who renamed the club and changed its colours from its traditional violet and white to red and white.
Founded in 1933, and re-founded in 2005 as Red Bull Salzburg, the club won its first Bundesliga title in 1994, which was the first of three in the space of four seasons which also saw them reach the 1994 UEFA Cup final. The club has won eleven league titles and five Austrian Cups, all five of which came as doubles.
In recent years, they reached the round of 32 stage in the UEFA Europa League 2009/10, 2011/12 and 2014/15 and the round of 16 stage in the UEFA Europa League in 2013/14.
On four occasions, Austrian clubs eliminated Maltese teams. Austria Wien eliminated Valletta in the 1984/85 Champions Cup with an 8-0 aggregate score, Rapid Wien beat Hamrun Spartans with a 7-0 aggregate in the Champions Cup 1987/88. First Vienna eliminated Valletta with a 7-1 aggregate score in the UEFA Cup 1989/90 while Rapid Wien eliminated Valletta with a 5-0 aggregate in the Champions League 1999/2000.
First qualifying round draw (27/28 June & 4/5 July)
Víkingur (FRO) v Trepça ’89 (KOS)
Hibernians (MLT) v FCI Tallinn (EST)
Alashkert (ARM) v FC Santa Coloma (AND)
The New Saints (WAL) v Europa (GIB)
Linfield (NIR) v La Fiorita (SMR)
Second qualifying round draw (11/12 & 18/29 July)
APOEL (CYP) v Dudelange (LUX)
Žalgiris (LTU) v Ludogorets Razgrad (BUL)
Qarabağ (AZE) v Samtredia (GEO)
Partizan (SRB) v Budućnost Podgorica (MNE)
Hibernians (MLT)/FCI Tallinn (EST) v Salzburg (AUT)
Sheriff Tiraspol (MDA) v Kukës (ALB)
Astana (KAZ) v Spartaks Jūrmala (LVA)
BATE Borisov (BLR) v Alashkert (ARM)/FC Santa Coloma (AND)
Žilina (SVK) v København (DEN)
Hapoel Beer-Sheva (ISR) v Honvéd (HUN)
Rijeka (CRO) v The New Saints (WAL)/Europa (GIB)
Malmö (SWE) v Vardar (MKD)
Zrinjski (BIH) v Maribor (SVN)
Dundalk (IRL) v Rosenborg (NOR)
FH Hafnarfjördur (ISL) v Víkingur (FRO)/Trepça ’89 (KOS)
Linfield (NIR)/La Fiorita (SMR) v Celtic (SCO)
IFK Mariehamn (FIN) v Legia Warszawa (POL)