Having won the inaugural Dutch-Belgian BeNe League last season, FC Twente are targeting progress in Europe as they prepare to launch their second continental campaign on Thursday.
The Dutch outfit entered the UEFA Women's Champions League at the round of 32 stage on their debut appearance in 2011/12 – losing 3-0 on aggregate to FC Rossiyanka – but on this occasion must negotiate a four-team mini-tournament, which they are hosting, containing the highest-ranked side in the qualifying round, Glasgow City LFC, plus Birkirkara FC and WFC Osijek.
Twente's matchday three encounter next Tuesday with Glasgow, who got to the last 16 in 2012, is arguably the tie of the round. Arjan Veurink's largely home-grown ensemble returned to training three weeks ago and, while the coach believes the forthcoming fixtures will serve as a barometer of their recent development, he is optimistic of reaching the knockout stage as group winners or one of the two best runners-up.
"With four new players, we have made minimal changes to our squad," said Veurink, aged just 26. "Producing our own players has paid off for some years now and with Vera Berends and Jill Roord that is again the case. Our goal is to qualify for the next stage, the round of 32, but looking further ahead these matches are a good chance to assess where we stand."
The matches against their Croatian, Maltese and Scottish opponents are reward for winning the BeNe League, a cross-border competition between Dutch and Belgian clubs, on the final day of last term, when they defeated leaders and title rivals Standard Femina de Liège 3-1.
"Before that match I did not feel positive about the outcome, but luckily things went differently," said Twente chairman Joop Munsterman, whose daughter Marthe is a member of Veurink's squad. "The girls have deserved this. The beauty of it is that the players all come from our academy, we have raised them ourselves."
Speaking in 2009, when Twente's women's section was a couple of years old, Munsterman had outlined his vision for the female game. "FC Twente serve an important community function," he said. "We feel solidarity for the girls and women. That means the players who are selected by us come from this region.
"FC Twente want to give them an education and not make a distinction between boys and girls. The female players can use the same facilities under the direction of capable and certified coached. See us as missionaries who really want to give women's football a chance."
As hosts of qualifying Group 8, Twente have a great opportunity of their own to hit Veurink's round of 32 target.
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