FC Zürich Frauen found themselves in the headlines a year ago with the high-profile signings of German internationals Inka Grings and Sonja Fuss – and now they are aiming to show what they can do in the UEFA Women's Champions League.
Zürich fell in the round of 32 on their previous entries, and having not competed in Europe last season, find themselves starting in the qualifying round due to Switzerland's slide down the club rankings. However, they are favourites to come through their group in Slovenia which begins on Thursday and is hosted by WFC Pomurje. The section also contains Gintra Universitetas and Atasehir Belediyespor, yet Zürich's ambitions stretch far beyond qualifying.
"I hope we can go further than the last 16," CEO and general manager Marion Daube told UEFA.com. "We will find out how far we can go in the next draw, but all the other teams are improving and we see that every year. We are making progress but we still have some work to do in Switzerland."
Grings and Fuss certainly brought a European pedigree to Zürich having both won the old UEFA Women's Cup with previous club FCR 2001 Duisburg, in addition to their international honours. The pair helped Zürich regain the Swiss title last season, proving their arrival was no PR stunt.
"That was not the reason we bought them," said Daube. "We thought if we have a few players who can produce something, maybe help Swiss football, then it would be good and we did that. They are professional and pass that on to the others. I would say from Zürich's perspective, they have helped – they have carried out projects with the club and, when we play away, they bring more fans. The media coverage, which is the biggest problem, is improving, and it must improve more. For us, it has brought a lot."
However, it is not just Grings and Fuss that Zürich's opponents need to worry about, with new recruit Marina Keller further reinforcing the squad. "It is not only about those two, it is a team performance," stressed Daube. "We are happy with the draw. There is no team we really wanted to avoid. We did not have to qualify in our last two entries so this is new to us, but we are really happy to be here."
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