FC Energy Voronezh welcome German champions 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam 71. e.V. for the quarter-final first leg.
By Eduard Nisenboim
FC Energy Voronezh will be hoping for better fortune than a year ago as they prepare for their second successive UEFA Women's Cup quarter-final, with German champions 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam 71. e.V. the visitors on Sunday afternoon.
The Russian side bowed out of the competition at the same stage last season, losing 4-2 on aggregate to eventual winners Umeå IK. Nevertheless, having remained unbeaten in their six European games so far this season, Ivan Saenko's side will be in confident mood for the home leg at Centralnyi stadium in Voronezh.
Energy have struggled in recent weeks, and after winning the Russian league championship in 2002 and 2003, recently lost their title to FC Lada Tolyatti. After scoring 27 times without reply in the Women's Cup first qualifying round, Energy went on to scrape through second round Group B4 thanks to a 4-1 win against Alma KTZH in the final round of matches.
Striker Elena Gorbacheva, who was Energy's joint leading scorer in the competition along with Nataliya Zinchenko with five goals apiece, has recently left the club and Lioudmila Korobitsyna and Laura Schott have also departed. Former Russia captain Tatyana Yegorova has joined from FC CSKA VVS Samara, and will bring some much needed experience to a talented but youthful side.
Energy are missing a number of key players for the first leg, with goalkeeper Olga Svinukhova out with a virus and Irina Suslova sidelined by a knee injury. In addition, forward Natalia Emelianova is suspended while a booking for Darja Apanaschenko, Olga Mishabskaya, Elena Lamtyugina and Nataliya Zhdanova would rule them out of the second leg. Potsdam's Annelie Brendel is in the same situation.
"It will be a tough match," said Energy's German midfield player Sabrina Rastetter. "Of course we have the chance for a win and I think it will be hard for our opponents in Voronezh."
German champions Potsdam saw off the challenge of perennial contenders 1. FFC Frankfurt to win the Bundesliga last season, and lie second in the standings five games into the current campaign, having lost just once. Bernd Schröder's team have managed 17 goals in winning their three Women's Cup matches so far, including a remarkable 7-5 victory against Torres Terra Sarda, and recently overwhelmed FCR Duisburg 5-0 in the German league.
The stage is set for a fascinating contest, with the second leg to be played on 31 October. The winners will meet Belarus's FC Bobruichanka or SK Trondheims-Ørn of Norway in the semi-finals.