UEFA Europa Conference League: Balzan, Gzira to face Neman Grodno, Dudelange respectively

Balzan and Gzira United will be facing FC Neman Grodno of Belarus and F91 Dudelange of Luxembourg in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Europa Conference League.

Neman Grodno eliminated FC Vaduz of Liechtenstein with a 3-2 aggregate score. In the first leg in Vaduz, Neman came from behind to win 2-1 while in the second leg, Neman managed to take the lead with Vaduz notching a late equaliser.

Since teams from Belarus are unable to host football matches due to the war in Ukraine, Neman Grodno opted to play their home match at the Gyirmóti Stadion in Győr, Hungary although Grodno is close to the border of Poland and Lithuania.

Neman Grodno are taking part in the UEFA Europa Conference League after placing ninth in the Belarusian Premier League last year.

They are participating in the competition after champions Shakhtior Saligorsk and Energetik-BGU Minsk were banned for match fixing, Isloch Minsk Raion were suspended for a case of match-fixing dating back to 2016 while FC Minsk and FC Gomel failed to obtain a UEFA license.

FC Neman Grodno are based in Grodno, Belarus and were founded in 1964. The team played in the third tier of the Soviet football system, excluding two seasons (1968 and 1969) spent in the second tier but since 1992, Neman plays in the Belarusian Premier League. In 1993, they won the Belarusian Cup while in 2002, they finished as runners-up in the Premier League after losing the first place play-off against BATE Borisov.

This is only their fourth participation in European football and only the first time that they made it to a second round in a UEFA competition.

This year, they are joint-leaders in the Premier League together with Dinamo Minsk after playing fourteen matches.

Meanwhile Gzira United will be facing F91 Dudelange of Luxembourg in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Europa Conference Leaguew.

Following a 2-1 win at home, Dudelange went on to defeat St. Patrick’s Athletic 3-2 in Dublin to qualify with a 5-3 aggregate score.

F91 Dudelange, also known as F91 Diddeleng, are based in Dudelange, Luxembourg. The club was formed in 1991 as a merger between three teams in the town: Alliance Dudelange, Stade Dudelange and US Dudelange. They won the championship sixteen times and the cup eight times. They qualified for the 2018–19 UEFA Europa League, becoming the first club from the country to reach the group stage of a European competition.

Dudelange also made the 2019–20 UEFA Europa League group stage where they became the first team from Luxembourg to win a game in the group stage after a shock 4–3 victory over APOEL of Cyprus. Ironically that season, they were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round by Valletta on the away goals rule.