The three Maltese clubs in the UEFA Europa League first qualifying round will be travelling East following the draws which were held on Tuesday in Nyon.
Gzira United will be facing HNK Hajduk Split of Croatia, Hibernians were paired with Shakhtyor Soligorsk of Belarus while Balzan were drawn with NK Domžale of Slovenia
The first legs are scheduled for July 11 and the second legs for July 18. Gzira were drawn to play the first leg at home but the final fixtures are yet to be confirmed.
Gzira United vs HNK Hajduk Split
This will be Croatian giants Hajduk Split’s fourth visit to Malta in UEFA club competitions after facing Floriana, Zurrieq and Birkirkara respectively.
In the 1975/76 European Cup (Champions Cup), Hajduk eliminated Floriana with an 8-0 aggregate score. In the 1982/83 UEFA Cup, they eliminated Zurrieq with an 8-1 aggregate score while in 2008/09, they eliminated Birkirkara with a 7-0 aggregate score in the UEFA Cup.
Hajduk were founded in 1911 and based in the city of Split. Between the early 1920s and 1940, Hajduk regularly participated in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia national championship. Following World War II and the formation of the Yugoslav league system in 1946, Hajduk went on to spend the entire SFR Yugoslavia period at the top level. The club’s run continued following the breakup of Yugoslavia, as the club joined the Croatian First League in its inaugural season in 1992, never having been relegated from its top tier. They are one of the most successful teams in Croatia and ex-Yugoslavia, having won nine Yugoslav and six Croatian league championships, in addition to nine Yugoslav and six Croatian cup titles and five Croatian supercup titles.
FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk vs Hibernians
FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk is a Belarusian Premier League football club, playing in the city of Soligorsk. The club was founded in 1961. During Soviet era Shakhtyor Soligorsk was playing in top or second division of Belarusian SSR league, occasionally dropping to lower tiers for a short time. In 1971 Shakhtyor absorbed two other local Soligorsk teams (Khimik and Gornyak). Their best results came at the end of Soviet days, when the team finished as league runners-up twice (1988, 1990) and won Belarusian SSR Cup three times (1985, 1986, 1988).
Since 1992, Shakhtyor has been playing in Belarusian Premier League. The team struggled through the 90s, usually fighting against relegation but since 1999, they have never finished below 6th place and became a staple European Cups participant. Shakhtyor Soligorsk became the champions of Belarus in 2005 and were league runners-up six times. They also won Belarusian Cup three times.
Their best run in UEFA competitions was in season 2014/15 when they reached the play-offs of the UEFA Europa League after eliminating Derry City and Zulte Waregem but were eliminated by PSV Eindhoven.
This will be the second time, Hibernians will be flying to Belarus after being eliminated with a 6-5 aggregate score by Dinamo Minsk in the qualifying round of the UEFA Cup in 1994.
In 2013, Valletta were eliminated by FC Minsk in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League.
NK Domžale vs Balzan
NK Domžale plays in the town of Domžale. They have won both the Slovenian League and the Slovenian Cup twice.
The club was founded in 1920 under the name SK Disk. However it was only in recent years that the club established itself among the top clubs in Slovenia. They won two consecutive championships in 2006/07 and 2007/08 and the Slovenian Cup in 2010/11 and 2016/17. Last season, they placed third and were eliminated from the Cup in the quarter-finals
Their best achievement in UEFA competitions was reaching the Play-Offs of the UEFA Europa League in 2017/18 after eliminating Flora Tallinn, Valur and SC Freiburg but were eliminated by Marseille.
In four clashes between teams from Malta and Slovenia, the latter prevailed as NK Primorje deliminated Marsaxlokk from the UEFA Cup in 2004, NK Maribor eliminated Birkirkara in 2007 and ND Gorica eliminated Hibernians from the Intertoto Cup while NK Maribor eliminated Birkirakra from the UEFA Champions League in 2013.
FIRST QUALIFYING ROUND DRAW
Malmö (SWE) v Ballymena (NIR)/NSÍ (FRO)
Connah’s Quay Nomads (WAL) v Kilmarnock (SCO)
Breidablik (ISL) v Vaduz (LIE)
Brann (NOR) v Shamrock Rovers (IRL)
Vitebsk (BLR) v KuPS Kuopio (FIN)
Ordabasy Shymkent (KAZ) v Torpedo Kutaisi (GEO)
Sant Julià (AND)/Europa (GIB) v Legia (POL)
Gzira United (MLT) v Hajduk Split (CRO)
Radnicki Niš (SRB) v Flora (EST)
CSKA Sofia (BUL) v Titograd (MNE)
Maccabi Haifa (ISR) v Mura (SVN)
Debrecen (HUN) v Kukësi (ALB)
Jeunesse Esch (LUX) v Tobol Kostanay (KAZ)
FCSB (ROU) v Milsami Orhei (MDA)
Čukarički (SRB) v Banants (ARM)
Crusaders (NIR) v B36 (FRO)Inter Turku (FIN) v Brøndby (DEN)
Prishtina (KOS)/St Joseph’s (GIB) v Rangers (SCO)
Cork (IRL) vProgrès Niederkorn (LUX)/Cardiff Metropolitan University (WAL)
Molde (NOR) v KR (ISL)
Levski Sofia (BUL) v Ružomberok (SVK)
Akademija Pandev (MKD) v Zrinjski (BIH)
FK Zeta (MNE) v Fehérvár (HUN)
Shakhtyor Soligorsk (BLR) v Hibernians (MLT)
Neftçi (AZE) v Speranta Nisporeni (MDA)
Olimpija Ljubljana (SVN) v Rīgas FS (LVA)
Budapest Honvéd (HUN) v Žalgiris Vilnius (LTU)
Radnik Bijeljina (BIH) v Spartak Trnava (SVK)
Fola Esch (LUX) v Chikhura Sachkhere (GEO)
Alashkert (ARM) v Makedonija Skopje (MKD)
Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v La Fiorita (SMR)/Engordany (AND)Široki Brijeg (BIH) v Kairat Almaty (KAZ)
Kauno Žalgiris (LTU) v Apollon Limassol (CYP)
Ventspils (LVA) v Teuta (ALB)
Cracovia Kraków (POL) v DAC 1904 Dunajská Streda (SVK)
Stjarnan (ISL) v Levadia Tallinn (EST)
Barry Town (WAL)/Cliftonville (NIR) v Haugesund (NOR)
Riteriai (LTU) v KÍ (FRO)/Tre Fiori (SMR)
Dinamo Minsk (BLR) v Liepāja (LVA)
Norrköping (SWE) v Saint Patrick’s (IRL)
Aberdeen (SCO) v RoPS Rovaniemi (FIN)
Domžale (SVN) v Balzan (MLT)
Laçi (ALB) v Hapoel Beer-Sheva (ISR)
Budućnost Podgorica (MNE) v Narva Trans (EST)
Sabail (AZE) v U Craiova 1948 (ROU)
Pyunik (ARM) v Shkupi (MKD)
AEK Larnaca (CYP) v Petrocub-Hincesti (MDA)
Seeded sides in bold