After eliminating Levadia Tallinn of Estonia thanks to a 3-2 win at home and a 1-1 draw in Tallinn, Hibernians face another team from the Baltics as they take on FK RFS of Latvia in a match from the first leg of the UEFA Europa Conference League third qualifying round at the Daugavas stadions in Riga on Thursday, kick-off at 18:00.
Ironically, last season, Hibernians also reached this stage, facing RFS city rivals, Riga FC. The Paolites won 1-0 in Riga but were eliminated after losing 1-4 after extra-time at home.
Hibernians will be all out to get a positive result which maintains alive chances of reaching the play-off round of the UEFA Europa Conference League – something no Maltese club has achieve yet.
Coach Andrea Pisanu should be able to count on Bjorn Kristensen after he served a four-match ban with the only player still serving a suspension being Andrei Agius who will return in the second leg.
FK RFS, in short for FK Rigas Futbola Skola, participated for the first time in a UEFA competition in 2019/20, in the UEFA Europa League, losing 4-3 on aggregate to Olimpija Ljubljana despite a 3-2 win away from home. The following season, they were eliminated from the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League by Partizan. In 2021/22, they made it to the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa Conference League, eliminating KI Klaksvik of the Faroe Islands and Puskas Akademia of Hungary.
This season, they were eliminated by HJK Helsinki of Finland from the first qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League on penalties but were awarded a bye to the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa Conference League.
RFS won the 2021 championship ahead of Valmiera, Liepaja and Riga and went on to win the Latvian Cup, defeating Liepaja 1-0. This season, after playing twenty two matches, they are currently second on 52 points, five behind leaders Valmiera and five ahead of Riga.
The second leg is scheduled for Thursday 11 with the winners proceeding to the play-off round of the UEFA Europa Conference League where they would meet the team which will be eliminated from the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round clash between Linfield FC of Northern Ireland and FC Zürich of Switzerland.