Explained: Who Bala Town can meet in Europa League preliminary round
Cefn Druids and Bala Town now know who they will be drawn up against in the Europa League preliminary round draw.
The Druids qualified through winning the Europa League play-off final when they beat Cardiff Metropolitan University, whilst Bala Town qualified through their fourth-placed finish in the league.
Bala Town will play in the Europa League for the fifth consecutive time next month, and the club will be looking to clinch their first-ever two-legged victory in Europe.
This year Bala have a better chance of progressing, as they enter the preliminary round of the competition with some of Europe’s smallest sides.
Changes to UEFA’s seeding system, coupled with Bala’s previous European record, meaning they enter the round as a seeded side, which will pit them against some of the competition’s smallest clubs.
Five intrepid trips are on offer, with teams from Andorra, Kosovo, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar and San Marino making up the draw.
Here, we take a look at who Bala will be hoping to match up with and who is best left avoided.
Sant Julia – Andorra
Sant Julia can relate to the Lakesiders in that whilst they have a European pedigree, they have tasted little success on the continent.
The club has qualified for European competition regularly since 2001, and as league winners in 2008/09 qualified for the Champions League, beating Tre-Fiori in the first qualifying round before being thrashed 9-0 on aggregate by Bulgaria’s Levski Sofia.
The squad is largely made up of a number of Spaniards, who cemented a third place finish in the league this season. Whilst they are a strong side, Sant Julia are unlikely to overwhelm Bala should they be drawn together.
UE Engordany – Andorra
If Bala fancy a trip to Andorra, this is the side they will be wanting to face as they would be up against a club in its first ever European competition.
Engordany have a humble history, established in 1980, they have risen through the ranks to the Premier Division since winning promotion from the second tier in 2013/14.
A second place finish has handed them their first ever venture into Europe, and although they finished above their counterparts Sant Julia, Bala will be looking to capitalise on being the more experienced side of the tie.
KL Klaksvik – Faroe Islands
Whilst not an easy away day, this trip could be a memorable one for Bala if they can edge past this well known Faroese team.
KL have won the Faroe Islands Premier League 17 times, but like Bala have never managed to get over their first leg in Europe.
The squad is homegrown with a majority of Faroe Islands players playing under manager Mikjal Thomassen, who is said to have introduced a flowing attacking game.
It’s a style that Colin Caton will be tasked with stopping, with the prospect of a two-legged European win surely cementing his status as a legend of the Welsh game after more than 10 years at Bala.
FC Prishtina – Kosovo
This will be a tricky tie for Bala as they would go against one of the strongest full time clubs in Kosovo.
They have won many domestic titles but competed in Europe only once, going against Swedish side Norrkoping in 2017/18, losing out 6-0 on aggregate.
Although challenging, Bala would go into this game as favourites in their own right due to their seeded ranking and can have every confidence in getting a result.
Tre Fiori – San Marino
Bala will be hoping for a big win in one of the world’s smallest states if they meet Tre Fiori in the preliminary round.
The semi professional side return to Europe this season after a six year absence. They have yet to win and Europe, most recently losing out 5-1 to Valletta of Malta.
The club will be one of Bala’s favoured sides, but they will face a challenge against a side looking to reestablish themselves as a top side, along with the battle of 30 degree heat in the away leg.
Bala are used to travelling to the Rock – but this location might bring better weather as they could face the third-place finisher of the country’s Premier Division.
Three sides can finish third; College Europa, Gibraltar United and St Josephs – and it will be decided this weekend as the league plays out its ultimate fixture card.
Whatever the result, a trip to Gibraltar will be a positive for Bala who would have a great chance of progressing to the first qualifying round.
(Featured Image: Vintagekits)