Malta’s Hibernians FC, who earlier this year won their 12th Premier League title, are well on their way to qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. The football team advanced to the second qualifying round of the prestigious Champions League after beating Estonia’s FC Infonet Tallinn 3-0 on aggregate. The next big match for the Maltese team is tomorrow night, when they face Red Bull Salzburg, the Austrian champions with a long list of honours.
Hibernians have never made it further to than the Second Qualifying Round, but their recent wins could very well land them a record-breaking qualification. Should they win against Salzburg (twice, once home and once away), a third round and play-offs await. After that, it’s the real deal with the popular group stages of the Champions League.
The Maltese football team made it to this point during the 2015/16 Champions League qualifying round, but had won one of the two games and lost on aggregate. This time, while a difficult challenge lies ahead in the shape of Red Bull Salzburg, the momentum is definitely in their favour.
This would not be the first time that Hibernians FC stirred some feathers in European Championships. The football team famously held giants Manchester United at a draw back in 1967 at the old Empire Stadium in front of 23,000 fans. The team was eventually disqualified due to a 0-4 aggregate from the previous match, but their draw against a team which included the likes of George best, Bobby Charlton and Brian Kidd was definitely one for the books.
Meanwhile, in the qualifying rounds for the UEFA Europa League, Valletta won twice against San Marino’s Folgore (with an aggregate of 3-0), Floriana drew Belgrade’s Crvena Zvezda 3-3 (although they had previously lost when playing away), and league runners-up Balzan also drew 3-3, against Hungary’s Videoton (who had also previously defeated the Maltese side at home).
Football teams which make it to the UEFA Champions League stand to win around €500,000 if they are eliminated around the Second Qualifying Round, with that number obviously getting way higher as the competition progresses. A total of more than €1.3 billion will be shared among the clubs in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Super CupA total of more than €1.3 billion will be shared among the clubs in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Super Cup, and even a very small fraction of that can go a very long way in a country like Malta to help push the sport even further on an international platform.
Hibernians FC face Red Bull Salzburg tomorrow night at the Hibernians Stadium, and the club has been urging all its supporters to attend the match and put up the team’s flag on their roofs.
Here’s wishing Hibs the best of luck!