Killie Make Champions League Debut

The women of Kilmarnock have beaten their men into Europe and have actually made the Champions League. FCL Kilmarnock and three other British teams will be beginning their UEFA Women's Cup campaign. A total of 31 teams will be competing to prevent Frankfurt from retaining the women's version of the Champions League. The other teams from Britain are Arsenal, Bangor City and Shamrock Rovers. The teams are split into eight groups of four with the competition starting on Tuesday 1st October in eight different countries. Last season the English Champions Arsenal reached the quarter-finals before losing to French side Toulouse 3-2 on aggregate. While Bangor, Kilmarnock and Shamrock Rovers may not have such high expectations I am sure they will do their best to represent their respective countries.

The woman's game in Scotland has not reached the heights of professionalism achieved in America or Scandinavia. That is why the Kilmarnock have had to dip into their own pockets to enable them to make their first appearance in the group stages. The squad needed £20,000 to pay for the trip to Austria (location for the Group 8 matches). They took to raising extra cash by packing shopping bags in Asda. However, they were still short of their target. They have even had to do without the services of their part-time coach Pauline Hammill as she has other commitments. the lack of funds has meant that
Killie have not been able to see anything of their opponents - Samara (Russia), SU 1. Dezembro (Portugal) and hosts Tiroler Loden.

Killie Coach Jim Chapman said: "
We're going to take part and return with some bills, but we'll worry about that later. They've won four trophies out of six in two years, but there are no expectations for the trip apart from enjoyment and experience. But there's not been a Scottish team that's reached the second round before, so here's hoping." Kilmarnock start their assault on the league on Wednesday when they take on Samara at the Tivoli Neu Stadium in Innsbruck (Kick-off: 1800BST). Coach Chapman knows very little about the team his women will face apart from the Portuguese having five internationals in their side and that the Russians could very well provide the strongest opposition. This leads him to believe his Scottish champions will start as underdogs.

The eight group winners qualify for the quarter finals to be played in October. The semi-finals will be played in April next year and the final, over two legs, will follow in June.

Group 1 (in Sweden)
Umeå IK (Sweden)
AC Sparta Praha (Czech Republic)
KÍ Klaksvík (Faroe Islands)
TKSK Visa Tallinn (Estonia)

Group 2 (in Italy)
Toulouse FC (France)
Lazio Calcio Femminile (Italy)
FC Femina Budapest (Hungary)
Maccabi Haifa (Israel)

Group 3 (in Yugoslavia)
FFC Frankfurt (Germany)
ZFK Masinac-Classic Ni¿ (Yugoslavia)
ZNK Osijek (Croatia)
Shamrock Rovers LFC (Ireland)

Group 4 (in Poland)
HJK Helsinki (Finland)
FC Sursee (Switzerland)
KS AZS Wroclaw (Poland)
Bangor City GFC (Wales)

Group 5 (in Greece)
Trondheims-Ørn SK (Norway)
Saestum (Holland)
FC PAOK Thessaloniki (Greece)
FC Regal (Romania)

Group 6 (in Belarus)
Fortuna Hjørring (Denmark)
FC Bobruichanka (Belarus)
FC Codru Chisinau (Moldova)
Breidablik (Iceland)

Group 7 (in England)
Arsenal LFC (England)
Levante UD (Spain)
KSC Eendracht Aalst (Belgium)
Gömrükçü Baku (Azerbaijan)

Group 8 (in Austria)
CSK VVS Samara (Russia)
FCL Kilmarnock (Scotland)
SU 1. Dezembro (Portugal)
IAC-FC Tiroler Loden (Austria)



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