Courtesy of Laura Montgomery
Scottish Champions Glasgow City, jet off to Helsinki tomorrow to take part in the first round of the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
Our representatives in Europe’s most elite club competition for the last five years, City made their biggest mark on the European stage last year, when they reached the last 16 of the tournament.
This year they are aiming to repeat that success but first they need to overcome what is widely recognised as the hardest qualification group in the opening round. City are in Group 8, and will face Finnish Champions PK-35 Vantaa, Croatian Champions WFC Osijek and Moldovan Champions FC Noroc Nimoreni.
First up for City will be Osijek, on Saturday 11th August, followed by Nimoreni on the following Monday before the showdown against host side PK-35 Vantaa on Thursday 16th August. With only the Group winners guaranteed to progress, Head Coach Eddie Wolecki Black reflects on the draw and the challenge ahead.
He said, “The draw for the Champions league could not have been any tougher. Having three teams in the same group that qualified last year means we face a very difficult task to emulate last season’s exploits.
“There is no doubt our last Champions League run brought great exposure to the club and the girls and we would hope to repeat that success this season. Our first game is against the Croatians and their league form is nothing short of exceptional, having recorded 20 straight wins. They also qualified as group winners last season to progress through to the last 32 losing out to the Swedes of Gothenburg. The Moldovans are a bit of an unknown quantity and won their Championship for the first time last season, therefore they will be participating in the tournament for the first time. Finally we have the hosts Vantaa and they have made great progress over the past few years. They won the title for the first time in 2010 and qualified from their group last year as winners before exiting to the Spaniards of Rayo Vallecano in the last 32. They have a mix of Finnish, Nigerian and New Zealand players in their squad and will prove to be difficult opponents.
“Our expectations will be to qualify for the next round and this will only be achieved by taking each game as it comes and giving every team the maximum of respect. We have worked hard over the years to gain the tag as number one seeds and I hope we can fulfil that ranking. We all enjoyed the limelight that last season brought us and I know this group of players are determined to make this one just as memorable. “
With tomorrow’s women’s Olympic football final between Japan and USA already having sold 83,000 tickets, a new Olympic record, hopefully the interest in the women’s game is growing and if City make it through to the knock out stages, we can enjoy a full-house at Petershill Park for their next home European tie.
Glasgow City will provide regular updates via their twitter @GlasgowCityFC and facebook @Glasgowcity Fc while they are away including commentary on all matches.