Hamrun Spartans hope to upset Velez Mostar

Following a most impressive 4-1 win over Alashkert of Armenia in the second leg of the first qualifying round last week, Hamrun Spartans will be hoping to upset FK Velez Mostar of Bosnia and Herzegovina as they play the first leg of the UEFA Europa Conference League second qualifying round at the Stadion Grbavica in Sarajevo on Thursday, kick-off at 20:30.

The Spartans will be backed by a large number of supporters who made the trip to Sarajevo on a chartered flight with the squad as they target a result which maintains alive chances of making it to the third qualifying round of a UEFA competition where they would meet either Levski Sofia of Bulgaria or Greek giants PAOK.

Fudbalski klub Velež Mostar are based in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The club has a history of being one of the most successful clubs from Bosnia and Herzegovina. They were founded in 1922.

During the time of former Yugoslavia, Velež was always in the Yugoslav First League and was the most popular and most successful team from Herzegovina to play in the top Yugoslav League. The team was very popular in Herzegovina, but also had fans all over Yugoslavia, and had a mixture of fans from all three main ethnic groups.

They finished as runners-up in the Yugoslav First League three times in 1972/73, 1973/74 and 1986/87, winning the Yugoslav Cup in 1980/81 and 1985/86 and the Bosnia and Herzegovina Cup last season. The team was relegated from the Premijer Liga at the end of season 2015/16 but regained promotion in 2019.

Last season, Velez placed fifth in the league behind Zrinjski, Tuzla City, Borac Banja Luka and Sarajevo but won the Cup after defeating Sarajevo on penalties.

Velez took part in the UEFA Cup four times and in the Cup Winners Cup twice in the seventies and eighties – their best achievement being reaching the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup when they were eliminated by Twente. They returned to Europe last season, taking part in the UEFA Europa Conference League, eliminating Coleiraine of Northern Ireland and AEK Athens of Greece but bowed out after a 2-5 aggregate defeat to IF Elfsborg of Sweden.

The second leg will be played at the Centenary Stadium on Thursday 28, kick-off at 20:00.