Cardiff Metropolitan University FC have qualified for the 2019/20 Europa League

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Cardiff Metropolitan University FC have officially qualified for the Europa League preliminary rounds.

In one of the most remarkable stories we've seen this season, the Welsh side have booked themselves a place in Europe's secondary competition after defeating Bala Town this weekend.

The squad is predominantly made up of PhD and Masters students and they narrowly missed out on Europa League qualification back in 2017 when they lost a play-off against Bangor.

However, they didn't come up short this season, but certainly had the strange workings of the Welsh Premier League to thank for their progression to the first round.

Besides, Cardiff Met actually finished in the bottom half of the Welsh table, yet did enough to maintain their position in seventh and guarantee a spot in the 'Playoff conference.'

Welsh Premier League play-off

Victories over Llanelli Town and Caernarfon Town were enough to book themselves a finals place against Bala Town and it all came down to their play-off showdown on Sunday.

Played in front of less than 1,000 spectators, the match was deemed 'scrappy' and finished 1-1 at full-time after Cardiff Met's Eliot Evans cancelled out an opening strike from Henry Jones.

As a result, just to ramp up the pressure even more, it became the first time Welsh Premier League history that a play-off game would be decided by a penalty shootout. 

Cardiff Met going on a European tour

Goalkeeper Will Fuller turned out to be the hero, saving three of Bala's penalties, before goal-scorer Evans converted the deciding spot kick and sent Cardiff Met into the Europa League.

It was a pretty seismic upset from the university team, not just because they had finish seventh but because it marked the first time in five years that Bala won't be playing in Europe.

The result means that Cardiff Met now move into the preliminary rounds, joining clubs from Luxembourg, San Marino, the Faroe Islands, Andorra, Kosovo, Gibraltar and Northern Ireland.

So, they haven't booked themselves a place in group stages yet, but they are potentially just four rounds away from playing the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Sevilla.

Don't put it past this plucky Cardiff Met team to put a few more results together, even if there's quite the difference between the play-offs in Welsh football and the Europa League. 

It would be pretty incredible to see a university team competing with establish professionals and players earning the equivalent of a student every single day.

And if we're really dreaming, we'll envisage Cardiff Met going all the way, qualifying for the Champions League and showing Lionel Messi some amateur football magic.

However, even if they go crashing out against San Marino's champions, it's simply astonishing that a university team has managed to make it this far anyway.

How would your university team have fared in the Europa League? Have your say in the comments section below.

Featured image by Matthew Lofthouse. Check out more of Matthew's work here

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