Frankie Brown and Hayley Lauder are enjoying life in Cyprus but unlike most Scottish nationals on the Mediterranean island this August, they are there for anything but a holiday.
Having spent the last month at UEFA Women's Champions League side Apollon Limassol LFC, Brown and Lauder are just one game away from reaching the round of 32. Rampant victories against FC Progrès Niedercorn and Swansea City Ladies FC – in which they fired 22 goals past their opponents with no reply – mean they go into their final preliminary round Group 7 game against Ukrainian side FC Legenda Chernigiv on Tuesday needing only a draw to seal first place.
Despite having only been in Cyprus for four weeks, Scottish internationals Brown and Lauder have already been impressed with what they have seen. "The setup over here is really good," Brown, 23, told UEFA.com. "The club is well-organised, training is very good and everything is handled professionally. I like the style of play here at the club. We are very focused going into every game and it has worked for us so far, so everything has been positive."
Lauder, who has scored five times in her first two games for Apollon including a debut hat-trick in the 14-0 defeat of Progrès, has also settled in well. "It's been brilliant," said the 21-year-old. "It's a different style of play to what we are used to but we like that. The heat is obviously a big factor here compared to Scotland. We played for Scotland in the Cyprus Cup friendly tournament in March and were approached by the club while we were out here. After a bit of thinking we decided to come and give it a try."
Their decision has already reaped rewards as Apollon are now one game away from equalling last season's round of 32 milestone. Brown is refusing to get carried away, though. "We need to take every game as it comes," she said. "We have scored plenty of goals so far but we need to stay grounded going into the final deciding game in the group. We can't look too far ahead."
Lauder, for her part, is quietly confident ahead of the Group 7 decider. "Everyone's really looking forward to the game. Legenda will definitely push us so we need to be ready, focused and just go out there and play our game. Everyone is just really looking forward to the challenge."
Brown, meanwhile, believes her spell at Apollon can only help her develop further as a player. "We've really enjoyed it. It's a great experience for us to come to Cyprus and to be playing Champions League football. It's quite something to play in a team with so many nationalities. Although everyone here speaks English, it's also interesting to be part of a team with so many different languages. That can only help you as a player."
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