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Updated: Balzan handed Azerbaijan test

Maltese teams learned their potential second round opponents

Balzan are one of the three Maltese teams to feature in this season's UEFA Europa League.

Balzan are one of the three Maltese teams to feature in this season's UEFA Europa League.

Balzan were paired with Kesla FK of Azerbaijan in the first qualifying round of the 2018/2019 UEFA Europa League, after the draws were released at the UEFA Headquarters in Nyon, on Wednesday.

The Maltese side, which finished second in last year's championship, will host the Eastern European side on July 12 while they will make the trip to Azerbaijan a week later.

This will be Balzan's fourth straight appearance in the Europa League. In the past three editions, the Maltese club failed to qualify from this round including against another Azerbaijan's side in Neftci Baku.

Birkirkara and Gżira United also learned their first qualifying round opponents, in case they make it through from their preliminary round encounters.

If the Stripes claim the spoils against KI Klaksvik of the Faroe Islands, they will face Lithuania's Zalgiris Vilnius.

On the other hand, if the Maroons manage to overcome Andorra's Sant Julia, they will take on Serbia's FK Radnicki Nis.

Meanwhile, Andre Schembri's Apollon Limassol were handed a favourable draw after being paired with Stumbras of Lithuania. 

Second qualifying round

Later in the afternoon, the Maltese teams learned their potential second qualifying round opponents if they manage to overcome their opponents in the previous rounds.

If Balzan eliminate Kesla, they will face the winner between Macedonia's FC Milsami Orhei and Slovan Bratislava of Slovakia.

Birkirkara will lock horns with either Vaduz of Liechtenstein or Bulgaria's Levksi Sofia if they eliminate KI Klaksvik and Zalgiris Vilnius. 

Finally, if Gżira had to overcome Sant Julia and make it past the first qualifying round as well, they would face a tough challenge in either Ferencvaros of Hungary or Israel's Maccabi Tel-Aviv. 

In the meantime, Apollon with whom Malta international Schembri plays will face either FK Zeljeznicar of Bosnia or Estonia's JK Narva Trans if they qualify from the first qualifying round. 

 

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