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Page last updated at 11:18 GMT, Wednesday, 29 July 2009 12:18 UK

Everton set for Champions League

By Tony Leighton

Everton women
Everton have their sights set on Champions League progress

Everton will be the first English team to savour Women's Champions League football when they face Croatian side Osijek on Thursday.

The newly created Champions League has replaced the Uefa Cup, which Arsenal won in 2006.

Last season Everton were Premier League runners-up to the Gunners, who have a bye into the knock-out stages.

The Toffees must come through a four-team mini-tournament, being played in Croatia, to reach the round of 32.

After meeting the host side, Mo Marley's team will face Estonian outfit Tallinn on Saturday and Strommen, of Norway, next Tuesday.

And though the Norwegians in particular will prove tough opponents, manager Marley is predicting a successful outcome.

606: DEBATE

"We're really excited about playing Champions League football," said Marley. "And we're definitely in the right frame of mind for this tournament.

"We are going into it full of confidence, and if we hit our peak it will take a very good side to beat us."

Most of Everton's players were in action for England last week, either for Hope Powell's senior team or the Under-19's - also coached by Marley.

The four young Toffees in Marley's national squad emerged triumphant from the European Under-19 Championships, as England won the title for the first time.

It's amazing to be associated with the competition

Everton boss Mo Marley

Meanwhile , eight Everton players were in the senior squad that beat Denmark 1-0 in their last match before next month's European Championship finals.

"We couldn't be better prepared," said Marley. "The girls have enjoyed playing and winning for England, and we'll aim to carry that on for Everton."

Everton and Arsenal have a massive Champions League incentive as the final, like the men's, is set to be played at Real Madrid's Bernabeu Stadium next May.

Marley said: "For the women's game to be given the recognition of a Champions League competition, with the final at the same venue as the men's, is inspirational.

"It's amazing to be associated with the competition, and the possibility of playing at the Bernabeu will be a big driving force for us."



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see also
England 1-0 Denmark
22 Jul 09 |  Women
England climb to ninth in world
07 Jul 09 |  Women
Everton will get better - Johnson
11 May 09 |  Women


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