The 2017 SWPL Cup winners Hibernian have discovered who they will face in the 2017-18 UEFA Women’s Champions League Qualifying Group, and will face a trip to Romania.
The Edinburgh side was automatically entered into the Round of 32 last season where they lost to Bayern Munich – however, this season’s, Scotland’s coefficient meant that Hibernian (as 2016 SWPL runners-up) face a round-robin qualifying group.
Hibernian will likely need to win their group to reach the Round of 32, although the team who finishes as the best runner-up from the ten groups will also qualify.
Hibs’ biggest challenge will be against the first seeds and hosts, the Romanian champions CFF Olimpia Cluj. They have reached the Round of 32 on three occasions – once reaching the Round of 16 in 2012-13 where they were knocked out by the Italian side Torres.
Cluj also contributes a significant proportion of the Romanian national team – for the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Play-offs (which they lost to Portugal), only eight players from the 23-player squad did not play for Cluj. They also have a remarkable domestic record. Since being founded in 2010, they have won every single one of the seven Romanian Championships have played in. They have also won six Romanian Women’s Cups.
The third seeds are the Ukrainian champions Zhytlobud-2 Kharkiv, who are making their debut in the competition – after winning their first ever league title.
The final team in the group are the Welsh champions Swansea City. This will be the third time they’ve appeared in the Champions League, having won the league title three times.
Their debut in the Europe came in the 2010-11 season, where they failed to make out of the qualifying group – having won just one of the three matches as the Georgian side Baia Zugdidi.
The same fate came next season, where their only win of the qualifying group came against the team that finished bottom – this time, the Luxembourgian side Progres Niedercorn.
Whilst Hibernian could have faced a harder top seed, it will be a huge challenge for them to reach the Round of 32. However, they will travel to Romania, full of confidence that they will just to do that.