Ħamrun Spartans coach Branko Nisevic said that his team will start as underdogs against Armenian side Alashkert after the draws of the first qualifying round of the UEFA Conference League.
The Spartans will make their first appearance in European football this summer after an absence of 30 years, with their last tie in Europe being their 1992-93 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup two-legged tie against Maribor.
The Spartans, who finished third last season, will play the first leg away from home.
Alashkert, Armenian champions in 2020/2021, played in the Conference League group stages last season where they faced LASK, Maccabi Tel-Aviv and HJK Helsinki.
Nisevic is expecting a difficult tie against the Armenian side.
“Honestly, the draw could have been better but at the same time it could have been harder as we could have faced Polish side Gdansk, so we can be relatively satisfied with the outcome,” Nisevic said.
“No doubt, we will start the tie as the underdogs as we knew that having a 0 rating we were going to face a stronger team than ours. If you look at past history, there were instances when Maltese teams managed to pass when paired with teams from Armenia, as happened to Birkirkara in 2016, but in general they are stronger than us.
“At the moment, we are in the middle of a squad overhaul and we are facing a race against time to prepare the squad for the European matches.
“But hopefully we will get some deals done in the coming days so that we will be ready when the tie starts.”