Barça were not altogether fortunate with the outcome of the UEFA Women’s Champions League draw when they were matched with BIIK-Kazygurt of Kazakhstan. Although there were some potentially much more difficult opponents that they could have faced, the downside is the long journey of 7,000 kilometres and a ten-hour flight. On a more positive note, as Barça were seeded, they have the advantage of playing the second leg at home in the Miniestadi.
BIIK-Kazygurt was the first name to come out at Thursday’s draw in Nyon and the ball marked FC Barcelona was the next. The first leg, in the city of Shymken in the far south of Kazakhstan, will be on October 7 or 8, when the average temperature in the city is around 10 degrees centigrade. The return at the Miniestadi will be played a week later on October 14 or 15.
BIIK-Kazygurt, who are currently top of their national league with a 100 per cent record, were originally formed in Almaty as Alma-KTZh, but relocated to Shymkent in 2010. Since then, they have appeared in the Champions League three times, going out each time at the round of 32 stage. In 2009/10 they went out to Sparta Prague, in 2012/13 to Røa of Norway, and in last season’s edition they faced a tough opening fixture against eventual champions FFC Frankfurt, with Spanish international Vero Boquete in the side. However, the game in Shymkent ended 2-2, the only one the Germans failed to win in the whole competition. BIIK-Kazygurt were soundly defeated 4-0 in the return, but the first leg result is indication of how difficult the long journey to Kazakhstan can be.