Champions League: Hibs Ladies ‘have sneaky chance’ after being drawn with Slavia Prague
Hibs Ladies head coach Grant Scott reckons his side have a “sneaky chance” of making it through to the last 16 of the Champions League.
The unseeded Hibees have been drawn against Slavia Prague in the first phase of the knock-out stages, avoiding some of the best in Europe such as current champions Lyon, Barcelona and Manchester City.
Their opponents, who have made it to the quarter-finals in the last two years, will be favourites to progress in next month’s last-32 two-legged clash (ties will be played in the midweek of September 11/12 and 25/26), but Scott believes his side have an outside chance of springing a shock.
The Capital outfit last made it to this stage of the competition three years ago before being comprehensively beaten 10-1 on aggregate by Bayern Munich, 6-0 at Easter Road.
“Listen, we don’t know too much about them other than they have been in the tournament regularly these past few years,” said Grant, who had travelled to Nyon in Switzerland for the draw. “There were some real big names in the hat so, if we’re being honest, we would have struggled against them. But we might have a sneaky chance across the two legs against Slavia Prague.
“All I was hoping for was a tie I think the players can compete in and if we lose it by the odd goal then fair enough. I would like to take the team as far as we can go, so we’ll just need to wait and see.”
The SWPL and Scottish Cup holders earned their place in yesterday’s draw following an unblemished qualifying campaign in Slovenia last week, finishing top of Group 3 with victories over hosts ZNK Pomurje, Cardiff Met and FC Nike of Georgia. Jamie-Lee Napier led the way with three goals on the continent.
And Scott, who is now hoping Easter Road is given the thumbs up to host the home tie against Prague, couldn’t have been more complimentary about his squad.
“I was so proud of the group. From the minute we left they just had a real focus about them,” he explained. “Even from the way they carried themselves about the hotel and it wasn’t as if we were overly strict with them, we just tried to create a good camp environment and they responded so well. They played with a control and measure that really just typified the whole week.”
He continued: “It’s a tough challenge playing three games in such a short space of time. From the travel, it was 30+ degrees heat, both in the matches and training. You’re also in foreign accommodation, eating different food – none of it was bad – but it’s different from being at home.
“We were going there on the back of the Glasgow City result [2-1 defeat] so I think going away so soon after maybe helped us bounce back. It was immediately wiped from the memory.”
Hibs return to SWPL 1 action tomorrow when they travel to Ochilview to play hosts Stirling University before the two sides meet again on Wednesday night in a Scottish Cup third-round tie. The winner will play Hearts in the next round.
Elsewhere in SWPL 1 action this weekend, Spartans welcome Forfar to Ainslie Park.
SWPL 2 bottom-of-the-table Hutchison Vale play Inverness in their Scottish Cup third-round tie at Saughton following last weekend’s postponement.