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02.10.2014, 10:50
Hoping for a journey to Budapest
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Women’s EHF Champions League countdown, part 2: With a brand new squad of world-class talent, HCM Baia Mare are ready for a long season they hope will end in Budapest.
 

Hoping for a journey to Budapest

It has been four years since a Romanian team played in the final of the Women’s EHF Champions League, and now a new star seems to be on the rise.

Following their first ever appearance in this competition in 2013/14 (when they were eliminated after the group phase), HCM Baia Mare bolstered their squad with big names – similar to the tactics that saw Vardar achieve qualification for the EHF Champions League finals for the first time in 2014.

The Romanian champions have changed almost their entire squad, signing big names such as 2012 World Handball Player of the Year Alexandra Do Nascimento, fellow Brazilian Barbara Arenhart and Norwegian Camilla Herrem. In addition, the squad has been strengthened with the arrival of four players from Russia and Dutch scoring machine Lois Abbingh.

Now, Baia Mare are ready to continue following in Vardar’s footsteps all the way to the FINAL4 in Budapest. Coach Costica Buceschi has a tough challenge ahead to ensure his team of world-class individuals become a world-class team, but members of the club are optimistic that Baia Mare – facing Larvik, Metz and Lublin in the group phase – will go all the way this season.

“We had our first taste of the Champions League last year. We enjoyed the experience, so we are back for more this year. We have a strong team with many top players, and we hope for a long journey through the Champions League. Hopefully, my next statement will be given prior to the FINAL4,” says manager Liviu Bala.

Team captain Valentina Neli Ardean Elisei, one of the club’s newcomers, is a little more reserved: “We are looking forward to playing in the Champions League. We are training precisely for those matches and I think every single player hopes to go as far as possible in this prestigious competition. We have been working very hard and we have a strong team. We want to show our best in the Champions League so we can reach the highest level possible.”

Three questions to coach Costica Buceschi:

Regarding your objectives and your group opponents, what are your expectations for the upcoming season of the Women’s EHF Champions League?

Costica Buceschi: This year we hope to perform much better than in the last season. We want to continue to the next round and gain as many points as possible. We will face very strong opponents coming from three strong national championships. All other teams from our group have a long and important tradition in the Champions League.
 
What does the participation in the Women’s EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?

Costica Buceschi: This participation comes as a reward for a year of hard and constant work, during which we fought to be number one in Romania so that we could go straight into the group phase of the Champions League. This competition is a test for both my team and myself; a chance to prove ourselves.

Which teams are your personal favourites to reach the WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 and for winning the title this season – and why?

Costica Buceschi: I think Larvik, Györi Audi ETO KC, WHC Vardar SCBT and Buducnost are the favourite teams for the FINAL4, and I think Vardar will be number one this season because it is a very strong team, built around a powerful group of players. Vardar is even stronger than it has been and I think that after so many investments, the team and management from Vardar at least want to play in the final, if not to win it.

Qualification for the Women’s EHF Champions League 2014/15 season: Romanian champions

Newcomers:
Valentina Neli Ardean Elisei (CSM Cetate Devatrans)
Camilla Herrem (Byasen Trondheim)
Barbara Arenhart (Hypo Niederösterreich)
Alexandra Do Nascimento (Hypo Niederösterreich)
Ekaterina Davydenko (Lada)
Ksenia Makeeva (Dinamo Volgograd)
Elena Gjeorgjievska (Buducnost)
Lois Abbingh (VFL Oldenburg)
Liliya Artsiukhovich (Zvezda Zvenigorod)
Anastasiya Lobach (Zvezda Zvenigorod)
Bianca Elena Tiron (CSU Neptun Constanta)
Yuliya Dumanska (CSU Neptun Constanta).

Left the club:
Aneta Pirvut (SCM Craiova)
Andrada Maior Pasca (HC Zalau)
Andrada Cynthia Tomescu (SCM Craiova)
Oana Carmina Bondar (Corona Brasov)
Renata Andrada Ghionea (destination unknown)
Mihaela Andreea Babeanu (HCM Ramnicu Valcea)
Diana Alina Puiu (HC Zalau)
Alexandra Loredana Ciunt (HC Zalau)
Reka Tamas (Muresul Targu Mures)
Ana-Maria Tanasie (SCM Craiova)

Coach: Costica Buceschi (since 2011)

Women’s EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2014/15 season): 2
Group Matches: 2013/14

Other EC records:

Challenge Cup:
Finalist: 2002/03

Romanian league: one title (2014)
Romanian cup: two titles (2013, 2014)


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cg
 
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