FCL Rapide Wezemaal are hoping to spring a major surprise when they welcome two-time UEFA Women's Cup winners Umeå IK for their quarter-final first leg.
The contrast could hardly be sharper as FCL Rapide Wezemaal and Umeå IK meet in the UEFA Women's Cup quarter-final first leg on Wednesday with the Belgian side in the last eight for the first time and their Swedish opponents having reached the first three finals of the competition, winning two, and lost to Arsenal LFC in last season's showpiece.
Wezemaal secured second place in Group B3 despite a 4-0 defeat to Valur Reykjavik in their second game, becoming the first Belgian side to reach the last eight of the competition in the process. Vic Crabbé's side should go into the game with the two-time European champions in good heart having mounted a remarkable comeback against Standard Fémina de Liège on Saturday, Karen Meeus and Kristel Verelst each scoring twice in the final 20 minutes to secure a 4-3 victory after Wezemaal had trailed by three goals.
'Everything is possible'
Wezemaal lie third in the league after six matches, six points behind leaders KVK Tienen with a match in hand. Morale is high ahead of the Umeå contest, which will be held at the Staaien Stadium, home of Eerste Klasse side K. Sint-Truidense VV, with the two clubs close to agreeing a partnership under which the women's side would play all their home games in Sint-Truiden while continuing to train in Wezemaal. For now, however, everyone is firmly focused on the task in hand with captain Annelies Timmermans saying: "Everything is possible. The Umeå match is similar to Sint-Truiden playing Real Madrid [CF]. But why is it not possible for Sint-Truiden to win once?"
Umeå, meanwhile, are eager to reclaim the trophy for the first time since 2003/04 and, having lost to Arsenal in the showpiece earlier this year, have received several timely boosts ahead of their trip to Belgium. Talismanic Brazilian striker Marta, the winner of the Golden Ball and the top scorer at the FIFA Women's World Cup in China in September, has signed a new contract while helping her team-mates successfully defend the Swedish league title. Marta was rewarded by being voted the best striker in Sweden this year, while Umeå's André Jeglertx picked up the coach of the year award.
"We always aim to win everything and this year’s Women's Cup is no different – we've managed to build a very strong team spirit over the years and hopefully that will get us all the way to the title," said Jeglertz, who is taking nothing for granted ahead of the two-legged tie against Wezemaal with the return in Sweden on 22 November. "Any team that reaches the quarter-finals are good so we will have to be at our best. We're in good shape and even though we've played a full season the players look as fit as ever and are fully focused on doing a good job."