Birkirkara were paired with KÍ Klaksvík from the Faroe Islands while Gzira United take on UE Sant Julià of Andorra in the Preliminary Round of the UEFA Europa League following the draw which was held on Tuesday in Nyon. Birkirkara play the first leg at home while Gzira play the first leg away from home. The Preliminary Round is scheduled for June 28 and July 5 but Gzira will be playing the first leg on June 26.
Both Gzira and Birkirkara, who finished their commitments in the BOV Premier League in third and fourth place respectively, were seeded in the draw which featured fourteen teams.
Europa (GIB) v Prishtina (KOS)
Sant Julià (AND) v Gżira (MLT)
Engordany (AND) v Folgore (SMR)
B36 Tórshavn (FRO) v St Joseph’s (GIB)
Birkirkara (MLT) v KÍ Klaksvík (FRO)
Tre Fiori (SMR) v Bala Town (WAL)
Cefn Druids (WAL) v Trakai (LTU)
Klaksvíkar Ítróttarfelag, better known as KI, are based in Klaksvík. The club was founded in 1904 and is one of the most successful Faroese football clubs, having won the Faroe Islands Premier League 17 times and the Faroe Islands Cup 6 times.
This season, KÍ missed out on the title on goal difference after ending their commitments in the Meistaradeildin (Premier League) on level points with Víkingur.
KÍ won the inaugural edition of Faroese top tier football in 1942. In 1992 KÍ Klaksvík participated for the first time on a European stage, competing in the Champions League preliminary round against Skonto Riga of Latvia, where they lost 6–1 on aggregate. By winning the double in 1999, KÍ reached a total of 17 league titles, a record at the time. KÍ hasn’t won any league titles since then, and although it held the honour of having won the most league titles since 1950s, it was surpassed by HB.
In Europe, they never managed to reach a further round, being eliminated by Skonto Riga of Latvia in the Champions League in 1992, by Maccabi Haifa of Israel in the Cup Winners Cup – despite a 3-2 win at home in 1995, by Újpest TE of Hungary in the UEFA Cup in 1997, by Grazer AK of Austria in the UEFA Cup in 1999, by Red Star Belgrade in the UEFA Champions League in 2000, by Újpest TE of Hungary in the UEFA Europa League in 2002 despite a 2-2 draw at home, Molde FK of Norway in the UEFA Europa League in 2003 and last year by AIK Stockholm of Sweden, despite a goalless draw at home.
Birkirkara, on the other hand, participated regularly in the UEFA Europa League/UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League between 1997 and 2016 but missed out on a UEFA licence last season. Their best achievements were qualification against Lokomotivi Tbilisi of Georgia in the UEFA Cup in 2001, FC Santa Coloma of Andorra in the Champions League in 2010, Ulisses Yerevan of Armenia in the Europa League in 2015 and Siroki Brijeg of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Hearts FC of Scotland in the Europa League in 2016.
Unió Esportiva Sant Julià, who are based in the parish of Sant Julià de Lòria in Andorra, were founded in 1982 UE Sant Julià. The team have been playing in the top flight since the foundation of the Andorran Premier League in 1995. Since then UE Sant Julià have won the Andorran championship twice (2004–05 and 2008–09) and are five time Copa Constitució winners (2008, 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2015).
Last season, they placed third in the Primera Divisió, ten points behind champions FC Santa Coloma. They lost the Copa Constitució final 1-2 to Santa Coloma.
UE Sant Julià took part in European competitions for the first time in 2000/01 but were eliminated in the first round of Intertoto Cup by Lausanne-Sport. In the Intertoto Cup 2002/03, they drew 2–2 at home against Coleraine from Northern Ireland, but away from home lost 5–0. They suffered an 11-0 aggregate defeat to FK Smederevo of Serbia in the 2004/05 Intertoto Cup while in their first participation in the UEFA Cup, in 2005/06, they lost to Rapid Bucureşti 0–10 on aggregate.
In 2006/07 and 2007/08, they once again took part in the Intertoto Cup, being eliminated by Maribor of Slovenia and Slavija Sarajevo of Bosnia-Herzegovina. They returned to the UEFA Cup in 2008, losing to Cherno More of Bulgaria with 0-9 aggregate in the first qualifying round. The following season, they managed to reach a second round for the first time as they eliminated Tre Fiori of San Marino on penalties following two 1-1 draws in the UEFA Champions League. They were then eliminated by Levski Sofia of Bulgaria.
Since then, they only participated in the UEFA Europa League. In 2010, they were eliminated by MyPa-47 of Finland, in 2011 by Bnei Yehuda of Israel, in 2014 by Cukaricki Belgrade of Serbia – despite a goalless draw at home, in 2015 by Randers FC of Denmark and last season by Skënderbeu Korçë of Albania.
Gzira, on the other hand, will be making a return to European football after representing Malta in the Cup Winners Cup in 1973, losing 0-9 on aggregate to SK Brann Bergen of Norway.
The draw of the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League, featuring Balzan, will be held next week.