Paolites, Spartans handed favourable draw
Hibernians, Gżira United and Ħamrun Spartans discovered their potential opponents in the Play-off Round of the UEFA Conference League when the draws of the competition were held in Nyon on Tuesday.
Hibernians, competing in the Champions Path, could potentially be handed the most favourable draw among the three Maltese participants should they manage to oust Latvian side RFS as they were drawn to play the loser of the tie between Linfield, of Ireland, or Swiss side FC Zurich.
The Paolites will be keeping their fingers crossed that Swiss champions FC Zurich will prove too strong for Linfield as a a tie against the Irish champions would give the Paolites a much better chance of progression than facing FC Zurich, who are the Swiss champions.
Added to that, Linfield would bring with them positive memories for Maltese football as a few seasons ago, Floriana managed to knock out the Irish side in the Europa League to progress to the third qualifying round.
Ħamrun Spartans, on the other hand, also can face a winnable tie if they manage to upset Bulgarian side Levski Sofia.
In fact, the Spartans will face the losing team from the Europa League tie between Larnaca, of Cyprus, and Partizan Belgrade, of Serbia.
Partizan Belgrade look on paper favourites to progress which would pit the Spartans against Cypriot side Larnaca should they manage to overcome the challenge of a strong side like Levski Sofia.
Added to that, the Spartans would play the second leg in front of their own fans, which could be an added advantage.
Gżira United, who face Austrian side Wolfsberger, were pitted against the winner of the tie between FC Molde and Kisvarda, of Hungary.
Again, while the Maroons face the prospect of playing a very competitive side in either Molde or Kisvarda, however, they will be pleased to have avoided much tougher opponents as they could have face teams like Turkish giants Fenerbahce or English Premier League side West Ham United.
Like the Spartans, Gżira United would play the first leg away and the return leg in Malta.
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