"It's never been as hard to get out of a qualifying group." That is the opinion of Eddie Wolecki Black, coach of Glasgow City LFC, as he leads his side into the qualifying round of the 2012/13 UEFA Women's Champions League, which starts on Saturday in Helsinki.
Glasgow City reached the round of 16 for the first time last season but Wolecki Black knows they face a daunting task to progress from Group 8 this time; their section contains the respective champions of Finland and Croatia, hosts PK-35 Vantaa and WFC Osijek, and Moldova's FC Noroc Nimoreni.
"Vantaa and Osijek got past this stage last year, so we know this will be a tough group," said Wolecki Black. "Vantaa will be the bigger threat, but Osijek are also a decent side. The other team in group, the champions of Moldova, are a bit of an unknown quantity. Each year it gets harder to reach the last 32 and this year will be no exception."
The Scottish club's unprecedented European run last term ended when they lost 17-0 on aggregate to eventual semi-finalists 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam. However, Wolecki Black insists that is all part of the learning process at this level and, with eight new signings added to his squad this summer, he is cautiously optimistic about another successful campaign.
"We've lost a few players through retirement while one of our main strikers, Lisa Evans, joined Potsdam," he added. "However, all the players we've brought in will add something extra to the squad.
"It's great to have Ruesha Littlejohn back at the club [the striker scored 96 goals in 74 games before joining Liverpool LFC in 2011] and we're also excited about what Leann Crichton can bring to our midfield having signed from one of our biggest domestic challengers, Hibs.
"First and foremost the main priority is to get through this tough group stage. After that it's down to the luck of the draw. We'll take it one game at a time and hopefully we'll do ourselves and our country proud along the way."
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