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Ħamrun Spartans hope to pick The New Saints or Lincoln Red Imps in Champions League draw

Ħamrun Spartans have discovered their potential opponents in Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League first qualifying round draw which will be held at the European governing body’s headquarters in Nyon at 2pm.

The Spartans will be competing for the second successive season in UEFA’s most prestigious competition and are hopeful of being handed a more comfortable path than last season when they were pitted against Israeli giants Maccabi Haifa.

On Monday, the 28 participating teams in the draw were divided into two groups of ten teams and one group of eight teams.

Within each of the three groups, the teams are divided into an equal number of seeded and unseeded teams.

Ħamrun Spartans were pitted in Group 1 and will be facing one Slovan Bratislava, of Slovakia, Lincoln Red Imps, of Gibraltar, The New Saints, of Wales, and FC Ballkani, of Kosovo.

The other unseeded teams in the group are FC Struga, of Macedonia, FK Decic, of Montenegro, Albania’s KF Egnatia, and UEF Santa Coloma, of Andorra.

While all the teams in the seeded group will provide a tough challenge, however, the Spartans will be hopeful of avoiding Slovakian giants Slovan Bratislava, who enjoy a great tradition in European football.

On the other hand, the other teams in the seeded pot look like an ‘easier’ opponent when compared to Slovan.

Over the past few years, Lincoln have improved a lot and in August 2021, they became the first club from Gibraltar to ever reach the group stages of a European club competition after defeating the Latvian champions Riga FC in the play-off round of the UEFA Europa Conference League.

Last season, Lincoln Red Imps were eliminated from the third qualifying round of the Champions League by Ballkani, of Kosovo, who are among the potential opponents for the Spartans.

The Kosovo side reached the group stages of the UEFA Conference League in each of the last two editions.

The other more attractive option for the Spartans will surely be the Welsh side The New Saints.

TNS are without doubt the weakest team in the pot with their best result in Europe in the last two seasons being reaching the UEFA Conference League second qualifying round.

The other team in the pot are FK Borac Banja Luka, one of the most popular clubs in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Last season, they reached second qualifying round of the UEFA Conference League and were ousted by Austria Vienna.

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