GLASGOW City’s trip to Kazakhstan tomorrow morning is going to be an eye-opener even for a club which has competed in Europe for each of the last 10 seasons. Not that Kazakhstan is actually in Europe, but the former Asian Football Confederation country was admitted to Uefa in 2002.
The 26-strong Champions League party depart from Glasgow Airport for the 4200 mile, 14-hour, trip to Shymkent via London and Moscow. The Kazakh city is south-east of Astana, where Celtic played this season, and logistically it is a far more difficult trip than that undertaken by the Scottish men’s champions.
Once there, Scott Booth and his players will stay in UK time, which is five hours behind that of the host nation. According to Carol Anne Stewart, the Glasgow City co-founder, it took all her considerable powers of persuasion before the team hotel agreed to serve meals in the middle of their night.
“It took me about five days,” she reports, “but eventually they gave in.”
For Booth and the players the task is to keep the tie alive for the second leg at Petershill Park a week on Thursday. BIIK-Kazygurt also have considerable European experience and reached the last 32 by winning all three qualifying group games with just one goal conceded.
Wednesday’s tie, at the Namyz Stadium, kicks off at 10am UK time and City, whose squad is not as deep as in recent years, will be without Scotland‘s most capped outfield player Jo Love and under-19 internationalist Sam Kerr.
Love has been unable to get time off work, while fellow central midfielder Kerr suffered an ankle injury against Spartans last Sunday. The more encouraging news for City is that they played their most commanding football of the season in beating Hibs 1-0 in Thursday night’s re-arranged league game.
“If we play to our best we have a good chance,” Booth says. “The travelling is not ideal, and is going to take a bit out of us, but the biggest issue is handling Kazygurt as a team.
“They don’t have brilliant individuals, but they play in a very strict, disciplined manner and have players who suit the positions really well.”
IT took a mere 144 years, six months and 13 days to get there, but Tuesday’s announcement that Ana Stewart is to become the Scottish FA’s first female board member was welcome.
The SFA have really dragged their knuckles on this one. Britain’s first woman Prime Minister was installed in 1979 and until recently the leaders of the three main parties at Holyrood were females. Yet the SFA, founded in 1873, didn’t catch up with the times until late 2017.
The truth is it had become politically untenable to maintain an all-male boardroom any longer and the governing body had little option but to acknowledge that fact. Remarkably, their announcement made no mention of Stewart being the first woman director.
The appointee, who is from Dundee, has no obvious background in football, but is a non-executive director and has an impressive track record in innovative technologies. What’s important now is that she is not seen as the token woman and that the SFA board – characterised as being male, pale and stale – quickly embraces further diversity.
FINALLY, good news for Shelley Kerr ahead of this month’s World Cup qualifiers. Previously injured defenders Emma Mitchell, Jen Beattie and Rachel McLauchlan all played for their clubs last Sunday.