After the hype and drama of the Champions League, it’s back to domestic competition for Hibs Ladies this weekend.
A quarter-final place in the SSE Scottish Cup is up for grabs at Ainslie Park tomorrow as the Hibees host Celtic in a competition they won in November after overcoming Glasgow City 6-5 on penalties following a 1-1 draw. The winners will earn a home tie against SWPL 2 outfit Glasgow Girls.
Chris Roberts’ side have spent the few days recovering from playing three Champions League qualifiers in six days in Cluj, Romania. The squad touched down in the Capital late Tuesday afternoon having finished second in Group 2 to hosts Olimpia Cluj, who will now play Swedish club FC Rosengard over two legs in the last 32 next month.
Hibs had hoped to secure a place amongst Europe’s elite. They began well, defeating Swansea City 5-0 before a 1-1 draw with Ukrainian champions WFC Kharkiv meant all three points in their final group encounter with Olimpia Cluj on Monday just past would be good enough to see them through. However, another 1-1 draw ended their hopes.
But Roberts is predicting his players will use their disappointment as motivation.
“We played three games and were unbeaten but we’re disappointed,” he said. “We set ourselves high standards. We’ve not gone away happy that we’ve left undefeated but of course it is something to build on. Our goal was to get out of the group stage and get into the last 32. We need to learn from the experience and make sure we’re a better team domestically.
“It’s another huge game for us tomorrow. Obviously as the current holders we’re desperate to get back to another final so that’s the first hurdle. That’s the thing with football, there is always another a game to bounce back. We’ve got two really tough games coming up with Celtic again on Wednesday night.”
Elsewhere this weekend, city rivals Spartans Women travel north to play hosts Aberdeen on SWPL 1 duty while, in SWPL 2, Hearts visit Jeanfield Swifts and Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale are at Buchan Ladies.