[WATCH] Balzan make club history after passing to the second stage of the Europa League

Balzan FC face Slovak outfit Slovan Bratislava in the second qualifying round of the Europa League after beating Azerbaijan’s Kesla FK 5-3 on aggregate

Balzan FC made club history with the team's qualification to the next stage of the Europa League
Balzan FC made club history with the team's qualification to the next stage of the Europa League

Balzan with a population of less than 4,000 made club football history this week when the local team progressed to the second stage in the Europa League.

Balzan FC lost 2-1 in Baku, Azerbaijan on Thursday but still made it to the second qualifying round on the strength of the 4-1 victory at home, a week earlier.

The Maltese Premier League runners up now face Slovan Bratislava of Slovakia, which qualified to the second stage after eliminating Molodvan side, Milsami Orhei 9-2 on aggregate.

Balzan’s progression in the tournament is a historic first for the club that only had four other appearances in European football, all in the past four seasons.

But Balzan’s progression is even sweeter since the club managed its feat against a better-ranked club.

UEFA’s latest club rankings put Balzan in 419 place. Their opponents in the first qualifying round, Kesla FK, were ranked 246.

The tiny club’s European aspirations, however, are bound to encounter stiffer resistance in the second qualifying round.

Balzan’s opponents, Slovan Bratislava are ranked 204, making them a harder nut to crack. The Slovak club reached the third qualifying round of the Europa League in the 2015/2016 season and the group stage of the same tournament in the 2014/2015 season.

Balzan play Slovan at the Centenary Stadium in Malta on 26 July, with the return match taking place in Slovakia a week later.

On the same day, Malta champions Valletta FC will face the Bosnian side Zrinjski Mostar away, with the return match in Malta taking place a week later.

Valletta got a chance to play in the Europa League after being eliminated from the Champions League.

Valletta is ranked 291 in UEFA’s club ranking, while Zrinjski is 257.

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