The first round of qualifiers is giving the first chance for Estonian clubs to confront themselves for the first time with clubs from Nothern Ireland (Crusaders FC) and Kazakhstan (FC Aktobe).
In the latter case, Kazakhstan has been a member of UEFA since 2002 only (they were part of the AFC, Asian Football Confederation) however, since then, no Estonian club had picked up a club from the Kazakhstan Premier League. The honour will go to Nõmme Kalju
Makedonia: two precedents and good tradition for FK Rabotnicki in Estonia
In the Europa League, FC Flora will face FK Rabotnicki. For the Skopje club founded in 1937 it will be a second time in Estonia.
In the same competition (2011-12) they clashed with Narva Trans bringing 1-7 on aggregate. After the 4-1 win in Tallinn, Rabotnicki confirmed their supremacy in Skopje (3-0). Russian player Anton Yepikhin scored the only goal for Narva Trans against this club.
Before that, Levadia managed to successfully go through Pobeda Prilep thanks to a 1-0 on aggregate. It was the Champions League first qualifier in 2007-08. The useful goal was scored away in Prilep by Konstantin Nahk, now retired (his last season in 2014 with FC Infonet).
Croatia is a no go for Estonian clubs
With two unsuccessful precedents against Croatian clubs, the tradition is all against Sillamäe taking on Hajduk Split.
The overall balance is 4 losses in 4 games, 3 goals scored by the Estonian clubs against 8.
The precedents belong to Flora and Levadia. The oldest (vs. Dinamo Zagreb) saw Flora losing on aggregate 0-2 with a double 0-1 home and away.
It was the then 2001-02 UEFA Cup and a couple of years later, Levadia clashed against Varteks Varazdin. They lost 3-6 on aggregate.
Levadia made their European road hard already in Tallinn when they lost 1-3, the only goal was scored by Maksim Rotskov. In the return game, the Croatian secured the qualification after 70’ (3-0) until Vitali Leitan tried to restore pride in the final minutes with brace (83’ and 87’).
Kazakhstan and Northern Ireland: only national teams clashes
The only precedents in football between Estonia and these two countries are at national teams level.
Estonia clashed with Kazakhstan three times. First in 2001 (Kazakhstan was still AFC member). In Tallinn it was 0-0. A year after, in Almaty, it was 1-1.
The last game is from 2009, Kasakhstan-Estonia 2-0 in Belek. They were obviously both friendly games
Before 2011, Northern Ireland meant only ‘losing’ to Estonia.
In 2004 friendly game, the guest won 1-0 in Tallinn. A result that was repeated in 2009 in Belfast. In that Estonian side losing at Windsor Park featured striker Ingemar Teever, set to travel to Belfast with Levadia as Premium Liiga topscorer.
In 2014, at the Euro 2012 qualifiers, Estonia took its revenge toll.
First they won 4-1 in Tallinn (the largest victory of the 10’s) and then they repeated themselves in Belfast 2-1 grabbing their spot for the play-offs against…Ireland.
That game was also played at Windsor Park and featured among the starting XI for Estonia, Dmitri Kruglov, one of the Levadia players travelling to Seaview.