THE Dons will learn their Europa League fate this month.
They are seeded for the first round qualifying draw on June 22. This means they will avoid the likes of West Ham, Rosenborg, Elfsborg and Sheriff Tiraspol – for now.
In 2009 UEFA got rid of their regionalisation rule when they split the teams into groups for the qualifying draws. Last year there was a form of regionalisation, but as it’s no longer a rule, the Dons could potentially travel as far as Kazakhstan. A decision on regionalisation is usually made the night before draw.
Anthony Joseph has taken a look at each of Aberdeen FC’s potential opponents in descending order of their coefficient:
FK Cukaricki (Serbia)
The Belgrade side qualified for the second year in a row after winning the Serbian Cup, with a 1-0 win over league champions Partizan. Nicknamed The Inhabitants of the Brdo, the club plays their home matches at the 4,000-capacity Cukaricki Stadium. Manchester City’s Aleksandar Kolarov played for the side between 2003 and 2006.
NK Celje (Slovenia)
Celje have impressed this season in the Slovenian PrvaLiga, finishing second to qualify for Europe. Two years ago they beat Dacia in the first qualifying round of this competition, but were narrowly beaten 3-2 on aggregate by Norwegian’s Tromso. Together with champions Maribor and Gorica, they have participated in every season of the Slovenian top flight since its formation in 1991.
Nomme Kalju (Estonia)
Won the cup to qualify for Europe. Two years ago they featured in the Champions League, beating HJK Helsinki in the second qualifying round before a 10-2 aggregate thumping by Viktoria Plzen. They were also put out of the Europa League that year in the play-off round, losing 5-1 in total to Dnipro. Last year, they beat Fram Reykjavik in the first qualifying round of the Europa League, before being put out at the next stage by Lech Poznan. They play their home matches at the 2,700-capacity Hiiu Staadion.
Flora Tallinn (Estonia)
This will be their 21st consecutive season in Europe, however, they don’t go very far. The furthest they have gone in the Champions League, UEFA Cup and Europa League is the second qualifying stage. Flora have won nine Meistriliiga titles since their formation in 1990. They have qualified for next season’s tournament by finishing third.
Ferencvarosi Torna Club (Hungary)
Based in the Hungarian capital Budapest, the club’s home stadium Groupama Arena holds just under 24,000 fans. The club was founded in 1899 and are nicknamed The Green Eagles. Ferencvaros have qualified after winning the Magyar Kupa. They are no strangers to European football and made the group stages of the Champions League in 1995/96 season. Their first ever European tie was in 1960, where they lost 5-4 on aggregate to Rangers in the European Cup Winners’ Cup. In 2004, they beat Hearts 1-0 at Murrayfield in a UEFA Cup group match.
FK Sutjeska Niksic (Montenegro)
Qualified for Europe after finishing second in the top-flight, meaning they couldn’t make it three league title on the trot. They have a well-respected youth system, with the most notable name to have graduated from Sutjeska’s academy being Mirko Vucinic. The 31-year-old striker was successful in Italy with Roma and Juventus and now plays for Al Jazira
Skonto Riga (Latvia)
The team Aberdeen FC should have played last year, but they were disqualified from European competition due to financial problems. That paved the way for FK Daugava Riga, who the Dons beat 8-0 on aggregate. Skonto are a much better side than FK Daugava Riga and finished second in the Virsliga last year to qualify. They cleared their debts in November 2014 and have been allowed back into the Europa League. In 1994, after a 0-0 first leg in Latvia, The Dons lost on away goals to Skonto in a 1-1 draw at Pittodrie in the preliminary rounds of the UEFA Cup.
Vikingur Gota (Faroe Islands)
The club was founded in 2008 after the merger of GÍ Gøta and Leirvík ÍF. They play their home matches at the Serpugerdi Stadium, which holds 2,000 fans. The club is based in Leirvik, but their home ground is located 5km away in Nororagota. Like the Dons, this season they reached the third qualifying round of the Europa League, beating FC Daugava and Tromso, before losing 9-1 on aggregate to Rijeka. Last year, they finished third in the Meistaradeildin and won the Faroe Islands Cup.
FK Renova (Macedonia)
FK Renova were Macedonian champions in 2010 and cup winners in 2012. This season they finished fourth to qualify for Europe. The club’s ground, Gradski Stadion Tetovo has a capacity of 15,000. Their last appearance in Europe was in 2012, where they beat AC Libertas in the first qualifying round of the Europa League, before losing to FC Gomel.
Odds BK (Norway)
Odds are record holders of the Norwegian Football Cup – having won it 12 times. They finished third in the Tippeligaen last year to qualify for the Europa League for the first time. Their last appearance in Europe was in the UEFA Cup qualifying rounds in 2004.
FK Kukesi (Albania)
Kukesi joined the Albanian Superliga in 2012 and have been one of the top teams since. They play their home matches at the Zeqir Ymeri Stadium, which has a capacity of 5,000. Their supporters, however, do not have a great reputation. Crowd trouble resulted in a stadium ban by the Albanian Football Association in 2012. And in the summer of 2013, they were fined 27,000 euros by UEFA after fans threw bottles and flares onto the pitch in their Europa League home legs against FK Sarajevo and Metalurh Donetsk.
Gabala FK (Azerbaijan)
Known in the UK as the team which Tony Adams coached back in 2010, Gabala FK are fairly well-off. They made their European debut last season in the Europa League first qualifying round, losing 5-0 on aggregate to Siroki Brijeg. They are also known as Qabala FK.
FK Shkendija (Macedonia)
Based in Totovo, this club are known for the political activism of their supporters. Their fans are called Ballistet and are pro-Albanian, often signing the Albanian national anthem at matches. Their followers have a long history of violence at matches, fuelled by their political agendas. The football team won the Macedonian First League in 2011 and featured in the Champions League second qualifying round in the following season. FK Shkendija finished third in the top-flight this season to qualify for Europe.
FC Ordabasy (Kazakhstan)
FC Ordabasy finished fourth in the Championship Round of the Kazakhstan Premier League, but qualified as Astana won the title, third-placed Kairat won the Kazakhstan Cup and second-placed Aktobe were in the final. They play their home matches at the 20,000-capacity K Munaitpasov Stadium. In their only European appearance, they narrowly lost 4-3 to Rosenborg in the second qualifying round of the Europa League in 2012.
FC Kairat (Kazakhstan)
This is the club former Don Stuart Duff played for. The Cove Rangers midfielder spent over a year in Kazakhstan. Kairat won the Kazakhstan Cup last year to qualify for next season’s Europa League. Ten years ago they were in the Champions League first qualifying round and narrowly lost to Artmedia Bratislava, who then went on to beat Gordon Strachan’s Celtic 5-4 on aggregate in the next round.
MTK Budapest (Hungary)
A well established side in Hungarian football – they were formed in 1888. Their two encounters with a Scottish side were against Celtic. In 1964 they beat the Hoops in the European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final – winning 4-0 in the first leg, then losing 3-0 in the second. In 2003, Martin O’Neill’s Celtic side got their revenge with a 5-0 aggregate in over MTK in the Champions League third qualifying round. MTK have won the Hungarian League 23 times, claiming the domestic cup 12 times. They are also known as MTK Hungaria.
FC Shirak (Armenia)
One of the oldest clubs in Armenia, FC Shirak were founded in 1958 and are the only team to have competed in the Armenian Premier League every year. They have won the title on four occasions, won the Armenian Cup once and Armenian Super Cup four times. Last year, they were knocked out of the Europa League in the first qualifying round by the lamb-slaughterers Shakhter Karagandy of Kazakhstan.
Mladost Podgorica (Montenegro)
Mladost qualified for the Europa League after winning their domestic cup against Petrovac in extra-time. They have only featured in Europe once – making the third qualifying round of the Europa League in 2013, before losing 9-1 to Sevilla on aggregate. They played their home matches at Stadium Mladost, which has a capacity of 2,000.
KF Laci (Albania)
KF Laci won the Albanian Super Cup to qualify for the Europa League for the third year in a row. Last year they beat Rudar Velenje on penalties in their first round qualifier, before losing to Zorya Luhansk in the next phase. The play their home games at the Laci Stadium, which holds 5,000 fans.
This club changed their name three times in six years, after forming in 2000. They started as Dinamo 2000 then became Dinamo Zenit due to a new sponsor in 2004. They then changed their name again to Ulisses in 2006, which they have remained as since. They have played in this competition twice in 2010 and 2011, but didn’t get past the first round of qualifiers. Ulisses won the Armenian Premier League in 2012 and were knocked out of the Champions League second round qualifier by Sheriff Tiraspol the following season.
FC Saxan (Moldova)
On May 27 this year fourth-placed FC Tiraspol folded, paving the the way for Saxan to make their European debut. The club finished fifth in the Divizia Nationala and are only five years old. They play their home matches at the 4,000-capacity Stadionul Ceadir Lunga.
Glentoran (Northern Ireland)
The Glens are a part-time team and are one of Belfast’s “big two”. They have won 23 titles and play their home games at the 15,000-capacity stadium called The Oval. They beat Portadown 1-0 in the Northern Irish Cup final to qualify for Europe.
Vaasan Palloseura (Finland)
More commonly known as VPS, this is the Finnish side’s second appearance in the Europa League format. They have previously played St Johnstone in the UEFA Cup qualifying round in 1990, where they lost 3-1 on aggregate. The club play their home games at the Hietalahti, which can hold 4,600 fans. They qualified for next season’s tournament after finishing fourth in the Veikkausliiga.
Dinamo Batumi (Georgia)
This is their first appearance in Europe for 15 years. Their last continental outing was in the European Cup Winners’ Cup first qualifying round in 1998 – which they lost 2-0 on aggregate to Partizan. They were semi-successful in the 90s, but have since failed to reach those heights. Batumi finished second in the Umaglesi Liga to qualify for the Europa League for the first time. In 1995, Celtic beat them 7-3 on aggregate in the European Cup Winners’ Cup second qualifying round.
Spartaki Tskhinvali (Georgia)
Qualified for the Europa League by winning the David Kipiani Cup, beating Dinamo Tbilisi 1-0. Tskhinvali finished fourth in the Umaglesi Liga. They are based in the Georgian capital Tbilisi and their stadium, Mikheil Meskhis Sakhelobis holds 2,000 fans.
Jalgpalliklubi Sillamae Kalev (Estonia)
Finished second in the Meistriliiga table last season to qualify for the second year on the trot. They beat Finnish side Honka after extra time on away goals to set up a mouth-watering clash with Krasnodar. The Russians thumped them 9-0 on aggregate. The Sillamae Kalev Stadium holds just 2,000 fans.
FC Lusitanos (Andorra)
Lusitanos are only 16 years old, with their home ground holding 900 supporters. They won the Primera Divisio in 2012 and 2013, which gave them back-to-back entry into the Champions League qualifiers. However, on both occasions they didn’t make it past the first phase. They have played a total of eight European matches since their first appearance in 2010 and have yet to win one, scoring only four and conceding 33.
Seinajoen Jalkapallokerho (Finland)
Known more simply as SJK, they are only eight years old. They finished second in the Finnish top league to qualify for the Europa League. They also won the Finnish League Cup last year. They play their home games at the Seinajoen Keskuskentta, which holds 3,500 fans.
FC Lahti (Finland)
Finnish cup winners in 2007 and 2013. This will be the second appearance in Europe for Lahti, who finished third in the Veikkausliga last year to qualify. In 2009, they beat Dinamo Tirana and Gorica to reach the third qualifying round, where they were knocked out by Club Brugge 4-3 on aggregate. The Lahden Stadion hold 14,500 fans.
Vikingur Reykjavik (Iceland)
The capital club’s first appearance in Europe since 1992. They finished fourth in the Icelandic Premier League to qualify. The Vikingsvollur stadium holds just 1,500 fans. The club also operates in other sports including handball, tennis, table tennis, karate and skiing. Former Rangers, Clyde and East Fife defender Alan Lowing is a key member of their squad.
FK Jelgava (Latvia)
Beat Ventspils 2-0 in the Latvian Cup final to qualify for the Europa League. Last year, they were thumped 6-0 on aggregate by Rosenborg in the first round qualifier. The city of Jelgava is located around 25 miles south-west of the capital Riga.
Olimpic Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Finally Olimpic have qualified for Europe, after many near misses. They won the Bosnian and Herzegovinian Cup on penalties against Siroki Brijeg in the final to claim their place in the competition for the first time. Nicknamed, The Wolves, the club play their home games the at the 3,000-seater Stadion Otoka.
NSI Runavik (Faroe Islands)
Faroe Islands Premier League champions in 2007, NSI have also won three domestic cups. They made their European debut in 2003, but have failed to get past the first qualifying rounds of the UEFA Cup, Intertoto Cup, Champions League and Europa League. They have qualified for this tournament by finishing fourth last season. Their stadium, Vio Lokin, does not meet UEFA standards, so they play their home European ties at the Torsvollur in Torshavn.
UE Sant Julia (Andorra)
In 2009, they became the first Andorran club to win a European tie, when they beat Tre Flori of San Marino on penalties in the Champions League first qualifying round. They have qualified for the Europa League after beating Santa Coloma on penalties in the Copa Constitucio final. They have won the Premier Divisio twice, in 2005 and 2009.
FK Atlantas Klaipeda (Lithuania)
The club has changed its name several times since it formed at Granitas in 1962. “Atlantas” mean Atlantic Ocean in Lithuanian. They have won the Lithuanian Cup twice, in 2001 and 2003. Atlantas finished third in the A Lyga last season to qualify. Last year, they beat FC Differdange 03 of Luxembourg to reach the second qualifying round, before Shakhter Karagandy knocked them out.
Glenavon (Northern Ireland)
The semi-professional club were the first Northern Irish team to enter the European Cup, in 1957. In 1995, they reached the first round of the UEFA Cup, where they met German giants Werder Bremen and lost 7-0 on aggregate. The Lurgan side have played Scottish opposition once at competitive level. In 2001 Kilmarnock beat them 1-0 in both legs of the UEFA Cup qualifying round. Glenavon have qualified for the Europa League after finishing third last season.
Cork City (Ireland)
No stranger to the big games, Cork have played some top sides in European football, including Bayern Munich, Galatasaray and Crvena Zvezda. Former Celtic, Manchester United and Hibs midfielder, Liam Miller, is a key member of their current squad. Cork finished second in the League of Ireland Premier Division last season to qualify. They play their home matches at Turner’s Cross, which can hold 7,500 fans.
University College Dublin (Ireland)
This is the university football club, who have been playing in Ireland’s top flight since 1979. The late Father Ted actor, Dermot Morgan, was their most famous fan. The Dons played them in a pre-season friendly two years ago and won 4-0. This is UCD’s first taste of Europa League football, having qualified under UEFA’s fair play ranking. Their European debut was in the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1984, narrowly losing 1-0 to Everton on aggregate.
FK Kruoja Pakruojis (Lithuania)
Finished second in A Lyga last year to qualify. They have only featured in Europe – a Europa League first round qualifier against Dinamo Mink two years ago. They were beaten 3-0 and 5-0 by the Belarusians. The Pakruojis City Stadium has a capacity of 2,000.
La Fiorita (San Marino)
Qualified for the fourth year in a row after finishing third in the Campionato championship play-offs. The club have played six games in the Europa League, all first round qualifiers – they lost them all, scored none and conceded 18 goals. They play their home matches at the Campo Sportivo di Montegiardino, which holds 500 fans.
Airbus UK Broughton (Wales)
Always the team on the Gillette Soccer Saturday vidiprinter who are finishing their game when all the 3pms are starting! Airbus are located in Broughton, just a few miles from Chester. Their origins were as the work’s team of aerospace factory Airbus UK and are nicknamed The Wingmakers. They qualified for the Europa League after finishing third in the Welsh Premier League.
Partizani Tirana (Albania)
Finished third in the Albanian Superliga to qualify for the Europa League. The club’s ground, Stadiumi Kombetar Qemal Stafa, holds just under 20,000 fans. Partizani were founded in 1946 by the Communist Party of Albania and remain a heavily political institution in Tirana. They have won the league title 15 times. This will be their first appearance in Europe in seven years. In 1979, they faced Celtic in the European Cup first round, beating them 1-0 in the first leg, before losing 4-1 in the return match.
Progres Niederkorn (Luxembourg)
Qualified for Europe for the first time since 1982, by finishing fourth. The club have only played 10 European games in their history, losing nine and drawing one. In those matches, they only scored one goal and conceded 37. They play their home games at the 3,000-capacity Stade Jos Haupert.
FK Trakai (Lithuania)
The 10-year-old club only gained promotion last year and finished fourth in the A Lyga to qualify for Europe. This will be their first appearance of continental competition. One key member of their squad is former Hearts winger Deividas Cesnauskis.
Liepaja or FK Spartaks Jurmala (Latvia)
Aberdeen fans will know by now that football in Latvia does not run smoothly. Liepaja finished fourth to qualify for the Europa League, but the Latvian Football Federation has not granted its licence for this current season. However, they are awaiting the decision of a UEFA appeal. Fifth-placed side Daugava Daugavpils were relegated to the bottom division due to corruption, which means Spartaks Jurmala could make their debut in Europe despite finishing 6th in the 10-team Virsliga.
Balzan FC (Malta)
This will be their first European adventure, since their formation in 1937. The club finished fourth in the Maltese Premier League to qualify. Balzan are more famous for their futsal team in Malta, who are considered one of the best in the country.
Bala Town (Wales)
The Lakesiders were runners-up in the Welsh Premier League. This is their second appearance in European football, two years on from their Europa League baptism. They were knocked out in the first qualifying round by Levadia Tallinn, losing 3-2 on aggregate.
Juvenes Dogana (San Marino)
Won the Campionato play-offs to qualify for their fourth European appearance. Until 2007, they competed in both the Sammarinese and Italian leagues. They have played six games in Europe, since their debut in 2008 – losing them all, scoring none and conceding 14.
Finished sixth in the Welsh Premier League, but qualified by winning the Europa League play-off final with a 2-1 victory over Aberystwyth. Their last appearance in Europe was in 1998, where they lost 7-0 on aggregate to Wisla Krakow in the UEFA Cup first round. Their home ground, GF Grigg Latham Park holds 5,000 fans. They are one of three clubs who have been part of the Welsh top-flight since its formation in 1992, along with Bangor City and Aberystwyth.
This will be the club’s first appearance in Europe after finishing fourth in the Armenian top-flight. They play their home matches at the Alashkert Stadium in Yerevan, which holds 7,000 fans. They were founded in 1990 in the city of Martuni, before relocating to Yerevan in 2013.
College Europa (Gibraltar)
Back-to-back winners of the Rock Cup, ensuring their second consecutive Europa League qualification. Last year they went out in the first qualifying round to FC Vaduz. They play their home matches at the Victoria Stadium, on Winston Churchill Avenue. Their goalkeeper Jamie Robba conceded six goals against Scotland at Hampden earlier this year, while playing for Gibraltar.