Conference League Qualifiers: Hajduk Likely against PAOK, Good Draw for Rijeka

Daniela Rogulj

July 24, 2023 – Three Croatian clubs found out their opponents during today’s draw for the Conference League 3rd qualifying round. Rijeka got the easiest rival, while Hajduk and Osijek will have a more difficult task as non-seeded clubs.

Hajduk, which joins the competition during this stage, will play against the Greek club PAOK or the Israeli club Beitar. If Osijek goes through against Hungarian club ZTE, they will play against Romanian club Cluj or Turkish club Adana, while Rijeka will face the winner of Torshavn (Faroe Islands)/Haverfordwest (Wales). If Hajduk and Osijek pass, they will take over as seeded teams in the playoffs, and Rijeka would be non-seeded in that stage of the competition.

PAOK finished fourth in the Greek league last season and lost the Cup final to champions AEK. Last season, the Greek club was eliminated immediately at the start of the Conference League by Levski from Sofia. PAOK’s biggest star is 20-year-old Giannis Konstantelias, whose value is estimated at six million euros. Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Kotarski plays in goal.

Beitar returns to Europe after three years and a shocking relegation from Albanian club Teuta. They earned their place in the Conference League by winning the Cup. Transfermarkt estimated the value of the Israeli team at seven million euros, about seven times less than PAOK and Hajduk.

Osijek’s potential rival Cluj finished in third place last season in Romania. The team has two Croats – midfielder Karl Muhar and defender Anton Krešić. Cluj is the seed in the double match against Adana but not the favorite. The Turkish club has invested a lot in the team and brought Herny Onyekuru from Olympiacos for three and a half million euros. Portuguese player Nani also arrived. Interestingly, Slaven Bilić was supposed to take over Adana this summer but chose a Saudi Arabian club in the end.

If Rijeka gets past Dukagjini in the second qualifying round, they will play Torshavn from the Faroe Islands or Welsh club Haverfordwest County AFC in the third qualifying round.

Hajduk will be the host in the first game, while Rijeka and Osijek will be away first and host the return matches. The first matches of the 3rd qualifying round will be played on August 10, and the return matches a week later.


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