Oran Kearney and Stephen Lowry are both relishing another European journey with Coleraine.
In the Europa League last year, the Bannsiders lost a penalty shoot-out against Motherwell but that was after edging past NK Maribor 5-4 on spot-kicks following a 1-1 draw after extra-time in Slovenia.
San Marino’s La Fiorita had been seen off 1-0 in the preliminary round.
The Premiership runners-up are relishing the chance to perform more heroics but they face a daunting hurdle in the shape of Bosnian side FK Velez Mostar.
The Europa Conference League first qualifying round is a tough test but Kearney’s men will hope to keep the tie alive in Sarajevo for the reunion at Mourneview Park next Thursday while a synthetic pitch is being installed at the Coleraine Showgrounds.
“It’s a tough challenge for us,” said Kearney. “The Gibraltar team would have been a more favourable draw but we’ve got strong opponents. We will just need to have the same mindset as last year and hopefully the same result.
“Fingers crossed, we are moving in the right direction in Europe and it would be great for a club to make the group stages. It will be brilliant for the co-efficient and league profile too.”
The winners will face Greek side AEK Athens and Coleraine midfielder Lowry says European football is often a magical experience for players.
“I think it’s the worst draw we could have got in terms of travel, especially during a pandemic,” he said. “The Athens draw is a lovely tie but we will have to go into this one as underdogs.
“You never really know until you get on the pitch.
“But I’ve some great European memories and they inspire you.
“I’ve never been to Bosnia before so I’ll look forward to that.
“It’s a good way to prepare for a new season. I love the fact you are playing against opposition you know very little about.
“The games can be tactical, different to the Irish League, but the majority of times the games are tough because we are a part-time team and you are testing yourself against really good players. It’s the unknown which is exciting, but it’s a good bonding experience for the team and a nice positive experience for the players.”
For Kearney, it marks the beginning of another campaign after he agreed a new three-year contract with the club.
The former Linfield player is in his second stint at the Showgrounds, having enjoyed a spell in charge of St Mirren in 2018-19.
“Obviously when I came home we didn’t really discuss my future with Colin (McKendry, chairman),” he added. “For much of the time I’ve been at Coleraine I didn’t really have a contract, I had a verbal agreement with Colin and I was happy with that.
“The way the last few seasons have gone, the club were keen to put something more formal in place and I was happy to do that, particularly with the new pitch going down. It’s exciting times.”