Mons Calpe and Santa Coloma: Who are Hibs' prospective Europa Conference League opponents?
Hibs face a trip to Andorra or Gibraltar in the second qualifying round of the Europa Conference League.
The draw was made in Nyon, Switzerland this afternoon with the Easter Road side landing a tie against FC Santa Coloma or Mons Calpe.
There will presumably be a bit of uncertainty among Hibs fans about the potential opposition, especially given that Mons Calpe are making their European debut this season.
FC Santa Coloma, Andorra
Founded in 1986, FC Santa Coloma are based in the village of the same name. Situated more than 3,700ft above sea level in the eastern Pyrénées, Santa Coloma d’Andorra has a population of just over 3,000.
FC Santa Coloma (not to be confused with geographical rivals UE Santa Coloma) was one of the founder members of the Primera Divisió, Andorra’s top flight, and since then they have won the title 13 times aand been runners up on eight occasions. They have only once failed to finish in the top three since the league was established, in 1996/97, and last season was the first time since 2005/06 that they didn’t finish as winners or runners-up.
FC Santa Coloma also have ten Andorran cup wins and are seven-time winners of the Supercopa Andorrana.
Staff and players
Their current manager is former Barcelona and Girona ‘keeper Albert Jorquera while much-travelled centre-forward Juanma Torres, the club’s top scorer last season, was on Real Madrid's books as a youngster.
Àlex Martínez registered four goals and two assists in 11 league matches last term while defender Andreu Ramos spent time with Barcelona, UD Ibiza, and Hamilton Accies before joining FC Santa Coloma in 2013. He has made more than 180 appearances for the Andorrans.
Midfielder Marc Rebés has 41 caps for the Andorran national team and has spent his entire career with FCSC.
FCSC play their home games at the Camp d'Esports del M.I. Consell General but they have played European games at the Estadi Comunal d’Andorra la Vella in the past.
FC Santa Coloma are in their eighteenth year of European competition, having made their contintental bow in the 2001/02 UEFA Cup when they lost 8-1 on aggregate to Partizan Belgrade in the qualifying round.
Their next involvement in the 2003/04 UEFA Cup ended with a 9-1 aggregate loss to Esbjerg of Denmark at the same stage. FCSC won their first European game in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup, beating Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-0 at home before losing the return leg in Israel 4-0.
Heavy aggregate defeats at the hands of Kaunas, Basel, and Birkirkara followed but in the first qualifying round of the 2014/15 Champions League, the side advanced to the next round for the first time after an away goals victory over Banants Yerevan of Armenia. The crucial goal was scored in the 94th minute by Santa Coloma’s goalkeeper, Eloy Casals.
But despite some crushing defeats, FCSC have improved in recent years, recording wins against Valur and Tre Penne as well as recording draws with Alashkert and Astana.
They were only knocked out of the 2020/21 Europa League on penalties after a 0-0 draw with Iskra Danilovgrad of Montenegro and will probably be favourites to progress against Mons Calpe.
Mons Calpe, Gibraltar
Founded in 2013, Mons Calpe Sports Club - taking the Spanish name for the Rock of Gibraltar – is one of the youngest teams in Gibraltar, along with Bruno’s Magpies (2013) and Europa Point (2014).
After they won promotion to the top flight in 2016, the club was restructured and US-based businessman Jose Alfredo Reygadas took ownership of the club through his Reygadas Sporting Group.
Mexican Reygadas, like Hibs chairman Ron Gordon, is heavily involved in TV and broadcasting. He is vice-president of Casa Media Partners, a group that controls ten radio stations, a TV network in Denver, and two DirecTV channels. In the past he served as VP of HBO Latin America Group and was involved with Universal Music Latin America and Universal Music Publishing Latin America.
Reygadas also owns Storm FC, a US fourth-tier side based in Florida that serves as a feeder club for Mons Calpe.
Mons Calpe haven’t won any honours. They began life in the Gibraltar Second Division, finishing second in their first year but losing in the promotion play-off, and eighth the following season.
They finished second in 2015/16, qualifying for the promotion play-off where they beat Britannia XI who promptly resigned from the league and decided to focus on futsal instead.
They finished fifth in their maiden season in the Gibraltar top flight, and again in 2017/18. They then finished fourth in 2018/19 and seventh in 2019/20 following the amalgamation of the two divisions in Gibraltar.
Mons Calpe finished fifth during the regular season last term before taking the last European qualification spot in the Championship group when the league split.
Staff and players
Their current manager is former Uruguayan international defender César Vega.
Captain and goalkeeper Christian Fraiz joined Mons Calpe in the summer of 2016 and kept seven clean sheets last term,
Uruguayan left-back Diego Caballero has had a nomadic career taking him from his homeland to Spain, Germany, and Italy before Gibraltar. His defensive colleague Ethan Santos has earned three caps for the Gibraltar national team.
Veteran forward John-Paul Duarte has recently joined and has scored goals for Lincoln Red Imps, Manchester 62, St Joseph’s, and Bruno’s Magpies.
The current squad has representation from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Gibraltar, Spain, USA, and Uruguay.
As with all football clubs in Gibraltar, Mons Calpe play their home games at the 5,000-capacity Victoria Stadium.
Mons Calpe have never before participated in European competition.