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Ħamrun Spartans set for tough draw in Champions League

Birkirkara, Gżira United, Balzan await opponents in Conference League

Ħamrun Spartans are set for a tough opponent in the UEFA Champions League as the draws of the European competitions will be held this afternoon.

The Spartans, who are back in UEFA’s premier competition for the first time after an absence of more than 30 years, were put in Group 3 of Tuesday’s qualifying draw and face some daunting opponents in the draw that is scheduled for 2pm.

In fact, the Reds could face Moldova’s Sheriff Tiraspol, regular competitors in the group stages of the Champions League group stages, BATE Borisov, of Belarus, FC Astana, of Kazakhstan, Maccabi Haifa, of Israel, who last season also played against Juventus, Paris St Germain and Benfica in the group stages, and HSK Zrisnjsk, of Bosnia Herzegovina.

On the other hand, Birkirkara, Balzan and Gżira United will be in the pot of the UEFA Conference League draws.

Birkirkara could be facing some familiar opposition in the UEFA Conference League first qualifying round.

In fact, the Stripes could come up against NK Maribor, of Slovenia, a team who they faced in 2014 in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers

NK Maribor knocked out Birkirkara 2-0 on aggregate after a goalless draw at the National Stadium and a 2-0 win in Slovenia in the second leg.

Last season’s Premier League runners-up can also be drawn against Armenian side FC Alashkert, who were knocked out by Ħamrun Spartans in the Conference League last season, San Marino’s La Fiorita, Dinamo Minsk, of Belarus and Dinamo Batumi, of Georgia.

Balzan FC could be facing teams from Eastern Europe as they could draw one of Ararat-Armenia FC, FK Sutjeska, of Montenegro, FK Sarajevo, of Bosnia, and NK Domzale of Slovenia.

The other possible opponent for Balzan are Liechtenstein side FC Vaduz, who had been knocked out of Europe by Hibernians a few seasons ago.

Gżira United are the only seeded team among the Maltese clubs and will hope to get a favourable draw that could see them progress to the second qualifying round.

The Maroons are facing the prospect of facing Estonia’s Paide Linnameeskond, Saint Patrick’s Athletic FC, of Ireland, FK Dukagjini, of Kosovo, Northern Ireland’s Glentoran, Lithuania’s FC Hegelmann Litauen and Welsh side Penybont FC.

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