Tonight, Celtic FC Women take on theRangers under the Excelsior Stadium lights in Airdrie as we look to secure our place in the final of the Sky Sports League Cup. A large crowd is expected for what is guaranteed to be an exciting fixture, with supporters of both clubs sharing the one stand. This will be Swedish Head Coach Elena Sadiku’s first game in charge of the Hoops so it’s a real baptism of fire for Celtic’s Queen of Queens.
Celtic last met theRangers in an SWPL match back in October. After going one up, Celtic sat deep and allowed theRangers back into the game and they came out on top with a 2-1 victory, a result that Celtic could have had no complaints about.
So tonight Celtic will be looking to get one back over their title rivals and the current holders of the League Cup.
Celtic’s journey to the semi-final has been characterised by entertaining, attacking football. Entering the competition in the second round, the Celts cruised into the quarter finals with a 6-0 victory away to Hamilton Accies. A home tie against Glasgow City awaited us in the quarters, and we came out on top with three goals from three different goal scorers and that was a real statement of intent from Fran Alonso’s side.
Our rivals had a tougher second round tie against Hearts in the capital but came out on top with a 4-1 win. An easier tie against Boroughmuir Thistle awaited theRangers side in the quarters, and they blew the SWPL2 side away, scoring seven goals.
Both teams have been on incredible form all season. In their last five games, theRangers have won all five, with Celtic winning four and drawing one. And theRangers have scored 38 goals and conceded none. Celtic have scored 37 and conceded one.
Of course, the new Celtic manager will be hoping to get off to a flying start in her new job. Speaking to the media at Celtic Park yesterday, Elena said: “It’s a final tomorrow. Either we win or lose, and if we lose, we’re out. It’s a huge game to start with and I’m really excited.”
At the media conference, Elena gave an update on the squad. She said: “I think players that have been out are still going to be out.” Not good news, as we had all hoped striker Kit Loferski would have returned to the match-day squad by now. Hopefully we can see her sooner rather than later, and that her injury hasn’t turned long-term.
Fran Alonso had pencilled in a return for Loferski for this game and he also indicated that he would be looking at bringing in a striker in the January transfer window. His departure just before Christmas clearly impacted on Celtic’s plans for the January window but hopefully mores are afoot to recruit additional recruits to help Elena in the second half of the season, with all three trophies still to play for.
Celtic star Maria McAneny spoke to Celtic TV at Hampden earlier this week ahead of tonight’s semi-final against theRangers. Maria said: “It’s a great opportunity for us to go out and prove ourselves after the last game. We’ve still got the Scottish Cup in our hands and after last year with the league cup, getting put out quite early, we want to go and redeem ourselves. Hopefully we can do that on Friday.
“All eyes on this game. It’s Elena’s first game. She’ll want to prove herself; the girls will want to prove themselves for her. I think it’s just all guns blazing for this game. All the girls are really excited [to work with Elena]. It’s a new challenge for us all, it’s a new chapter.
“Having it as a home game is always an advantage. Being able to see the fans, I think everyone will be up for it. Let’s hope we can go out and put on a show for everyone.”
🗣 “We are all buzzing. We’ve got momentum behind us, we just need to carry that onto Friday.”
— Celtic FC Women (@CelticFCWomen) January 16, 2024
Sean Murdoch will have the whistle this evening and he will be assisted by Liam MacDougall and Robbie Fraser. The Fourth Official will be Thomas Denholm and for the lurkers Willie Collum will handling our interests on VAR*.
The Sky Sports League Cup semi-final match, Celtic FC Women v theRangers, takes place at the Excelsior Stadium in Airdrie and the kick-off time is 7.35pm. Allow plenty of time as the approaching roads tend to be busy when the women’s Glasgow Derby is on.
Where to Watch
Best place is the Excelsior Stadium, Friday night under the lights after no Celtic action for three weeks. Alternatively the match is live on BBC Alba – channel 117.
Ever the optimist when it comes to Celtic FC Women, I do however recognise that the Ghirls go into this evening’s match as underdogs and with a weakened squad plus the managerial change is a factor. That said this Celtic squad has a core of players who are used to getting results in the Glasgow Derby and hopefully tonight there’s more of the same against an opponent who strengthened considerably in the summer.
My score prediction? I think Elena is going to get off to a brilliant start and we’ll pull off a 1-0 victory in front of a large and enthusiastic Celtic support. What an introduction to her time as Celtic manager that would be for the Queen of Queens.
Here’s some additional photos of Celtic FC Women’s most recent cup match against theRangers and we’ve kept the best for the end!
It’s semi-final Glasgow Derby day, come on the Hoops!👊
— Celtic FC Women (@CelticFCWomen) January 19, 2024
* That bit’s a joke, there’s no VAR in operation this evening.