Belfast Telegraph

Glentoran girls are aiming to be top of the Euro charts

By Ray Alexander

Glentoran fans can normally only dream of the Belfast team winning the European Cup, but their ladies side are hoping to have a major impact on this season's Uefa Women's Champions League.

Glentoran Belfast United will play in a four-team mini-league in Belfast this week, as the NIFWA Premier League champions compete in the Champions League Qualifying round.

The Glens will face Greek side PAOK, Bulgarian champions NSA Sofia and Macedonia club ZFK Dragon in a six-day competition, which kicks-off today.

Coach Ray Alexander believes it's a fantastic opportunity for his girls.

"The girls are really looking forward to the chance to pit themselves against teams from Greece, Bulgaria and Macedonia," he commented.

"The fact that the tournament is in Belfast gives us a better chance of doing well, so we're determined to make home advantage count.

"Only one team will make it through to the final 32 from this group, but with teams like Lyon and Paris St Germain in the tournament, it's a big incentive for our girls to do well.

"Last year we lost narrowly (2-0) to Glasgow City at this stage, and they went on to reach the quarter-finals.

"I think that shows that a team from the qualifying rounds can go far in the Champions League, and that we're not a million miles away from those elite clubs.

"Our three opponents are very good but we're determined to do the club proud."

Glentoran's Group Two campaign begins tonight at Seaview, when the girls face PAOK at 7.30pm. NSA Sofia and Dragon will get the ball rolling at 2pm today, also at Seaview.

On Thursday, the Glens return to the north-Belfast stadium for another 7.30pm kick-off, this time against NSA Sofia. PAOK and Dragon will play at the same venue earlier in the afternoon (2pm).

The final round of fixtures will take place on Sunday. The Glens will play Dragon at Seaview, while NSA Sofia and PAOK will go head-to-head at Solitude (both kick-off 4.00pm).

Only the group winner will progress to the last 32 where they could face the likes of holders Frankfurt, French champions Lyon, Paris St-Germain, Glasgow City, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Liverpool or recent Women's FA Cup winners Chelsea.

Belfast Telegraph


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