Glasgow City’s 23-year-old Irish international Ruesha Littlejohn has stated that the Scottish champions have set qualification to the last 16 of the UEFA Women’s Champions League as their main aim this season.
The eight-time Scottish champions take on fifteen-time Belgian champions Standard Liege at the 30,000 capacity Stade de Sclession in the last 32 of the UEFA Women’s Champions League tomorrow night. City have previously only reached the last 16 on one occasion back in 2011.
Speaking at a recent photo-shoot to promote the tie with Standard Liege, Littlejohn said: “At the start of the season we spoke and said that the last 16 would be our aim. These are the biggest games of the season. No disrespect to our league but you know these are the games that matter. It’s always a big challenge and everyone is looking forward to it. That is why we put in so much hard work for these big games.”
A battle of Britain match up with FA WSL side Arsenal Ladies could await City if they make it past Liege, with Arsenal favourites to beat Kazak champions CSHVSM-Kairat in their last 32 tie.
The Republic of Ireland striker believes City have a much stronger squad than they have had in previous seasons. She added: “With the big squad we have now, we have such a good team. You can’t tell what the starting line-up is going to be. For the last few years we have always had good players, but some of them have left and are now away playing professionally.
“So we’ve lost them players but we’ve taken in a lot of new players and everyone has stepped their game up. We have some injured players back now also so the squad is much stronger right now, which is obviously very good.”
Littlejohn returned to City in 2012 for her third spell with the Glasgow club after competing in the FA’s inaugural Super League season with Liverpool.
Glasgow-born Littlejohn recently changed her national allegiance by choosing to play for the Republic of Ireland having played for Scotland at youth level. Littlejohn continued: “Internationals and the Champions League are both very high level. It’s always such a high tempo especially fitness wise. It’s very tough in the Champions League so you have to make sure you are fit and have the ability to compete at that standard. Both are similar but the Champions League is always very high.”
The striker is optimistic of the Scottish champions chances this season in Europe having already beaten Dutch side FC Twente in the group stages of the competition, who finished top of the BeNe League ahead of Liege.
Littlejohn added: “We did well to beat Twente and Standard Liege are in the same league as Twente so hopefully we will know a great deal about them after our game on Sunday when we start studying them. I’m sure Eddie or Laura will have someone over to watch them but we won’t discuss it until after Sunday until that game is out the way.”