Now that we have discovered our potential opponents for the Europa Conference League draw, we take an in-depth look at what could await the Lakesiders in the first qualifying round.
The draw will take place tomorrow, June 14th, at 12 pm (BST) with a live broadcast being shown on the UEFA website. Once our opponents are confirmed, we will then play out the first leg on the 7th of July with the return game to follow a week later on the 14th.
A trip to West Ireland could await the Lakesiders should we be drawn against Sligo Rovers in tomorrow's draw. The Bit O'Reds finished 3rd in last season's League of Ireland Premier Division seeing them qualify for the Europa Conference League for a second year running. Over the years, they have featured in Europe on numerous occasions, facing the likes of Molde, Nantes and Club Brugge.
Some of the key players who play their football at The Showgrounds include the likes of a former Canadian international Jordan Hamilton. The 26-year-old had spent several campaigns playing in the MLS before making the move across the pond. He partners Aidan Kenna in attack for Sligo who has already contributed seven goals for his side since joining in January.
The supporter-owned club are managed by John Russell who only recently signed on a permanent basis as the manager having previously had an interim spell. Russell, who played for the Irish team on over 100 occasions, has won and drawn one of his opening two games as manager with Europe soon approaching.
Lakesider fans will be no stranger to the name of this side having crashed out to Tre Fiori in our 2018-19 Europa League campaign. On that occasion, we fell to a 3-0 defeat in the first leg in San Marino before a 1-0 win was not enough to overcome the damage already dealt.
Tre Fiori is a semi-professional side based in Florentino, San Marino and play their home games at Stadio di Fiorentino. They have won the Campionato Sammarinese di Calcio, the highest division of San Marinese football, a record total of eight times, most recently in the 2019/20 season. They have also featured in Europe on seven previous occasions featuring in both the Champions League and Europa League.
The side managed by Luca Borgagni have an array of different nationalities playing their football in San Marino including Brazilian, Croatian and Burkina Faso players. While only two names remain from the side that famously knocked the Lakesiders out of the Europa League in 2018.
A clash between the Lakesiders and the Vikings could await the first qualifying round of the Europa Conference League. Víkingur is a semi-professional Faroe Islands side based in Leirvík that plays its games at the Serpugerdi Stadium.
Under the management of Jóhan Petur Poulsen, Víkingur finished 3rd in last season's Faroe Islands Premier League achieving Europe for the first time in four years. Their previous campaigns in Europe have seen them claim five victories out of 26 total games, progressing on four separate occasions.
Andreas Olsen will be the one to watch should we be travelling to the Faroe Islands as he finished 4th in their league's goalscoring tally, scoring 14 goals. The striker is also a Faroe Islands international having achieved 12 caps while also having scored on two occasions. Most recently, Olsen contributed a goal in his national side's memorable 3-2 comeback win over Malta in the 2020-21 Nations League campaign.
A side the Lakesiders will be facing already at the end of June could await us in early July as Cliftonville have been placed alongside us in group four. The Northern Irish side is heading to Maes Tegid to face us in a pre-season fixture on June 25th yet we could be facing them twice a little over a week later when the first qualifying round gets underway.
The Reds finished runners-up in the NIFL Premiership last season, only a point behind champions Linfield. While this will be their eighth campaign in Europe since 2010 having had some memorable occasions competing in both the Champions League and Europa League, facing the likes of Celtic and Nordsjælland.
Cliftonville plays their football in the capital of Belfast at the Solitude Stadium. While they are managed under Paddy McLaughin who guided them to victory in the League Cup final against Coleraine at Windsor Park in March.
UE SANTA COLOMA
Another new destination could be printed on our boarding passes as Andorran side Santa Coloma have been placed in group four ahead of tomorrow's draw. The Squirrels play in black and yellow and are based in the village of Santa Coloma, Andorra. They play in the Primera Divisió which is the top division of Andorran football and will be expected to play their home leg at the country's national stadium of Estadi Nacional.
They are still awaiting their maiden victory in Europe having played in seven previous campaigns of the Europa League. Despite this, they have still managed to play some impressive opposition having faced the likes of Twente and Osijek.
Santa Coloma have some notable names in their respective camp such as Salomón Obama, an Equatorial Guinea international who has represented his country on 11 occasions, scoring once. For the Squirrels, Obama has played 15 games contributing seven goals as a winger, confirming he will be a danger man to watch out for should we be drawn against the Andorran outfit.