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03.10.2014, 12:20
Aiming for a FINAL4 rematch
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Women’s EHF Champions League countdown, part 3: The perennial Montenegrin champions Buducnost are back with one goal in mind – to make amends for their loss in the 2014 MVM EHF FINAL4.
 

Aiming for a FINAL4 rematch

Buducnost will participate in the Women’s EHF Champions League for the 19th time this season. The Montenegrin champions have reached the semi-finals of the competition eight times, including their so-far one successful campaign when they were crowned champions in 2012.

The team qualified for the first ever women’s FINAL4 in May 2014, travelling to Budapest where they were defeated by Györ in the final. With the FINAL4 event being held in Budapest until 2016, head coach Dragan Adzic has once again declared the Hungarian capital the team’s ultimate goal.

Team manager and handball legend Bojana Popovic says qualifying for Budapest should not be the end of their dreams. “We have a team that is more experienced following a strong season and participation in the FINAL4. The FINAL4 gave us something new and experience we did not have before. This year we have high ambitions again – our wish is to repeat the final of last season, but with a different ending!

“The most important thing in a long season is to keep all our athletes free from severe injuries, because everyone is valuable. I don’t think it will be too difficult to achieve our goal. We expect a beautiful and exciting season,” concludes Popovic.

Buducnost’s squad was bolstered by the return of three-time EHF Champions League winner Katarina Bulatovic from Györ. Bulatovic was key to the success of both Buducnost and Montenegro in 2012, when the teams won the EHF Champions League and EHF EURO 2012 respectively. Five players have left Buducnost, but the transfer of Bulatovic goes a long way in making up for the losses.

For team captain, Clara Woltering, another FINAL4 in Budapest remains the team’s main goal, but there are more immediate challenges ahead.

“The upcoming Champions League season will be really interesting. It is a big challenge with many potential obstacles for every team. The new system is tougher than before, as it is only after the quarter-finals that you know whether you are part of the FINAL4 or not. The 2014 FINAL4 was a successful premiere and every team wants to be there.

“We will be ready for fantastic games, though I believe we have the hardest group with two teams that played at the 2014 FINAL4, so we know we have to be focused right from the beginning,” says Woltering.

Buducnost will face Vardar (a finalist at last season’s ‘FINAL4’), Thüringer HC and Podravka Vegeta in the group matches.
 
Three questions to coach Dragan Adzic:

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


Dragan Adzic: Our club always strives for the highest achievements in the Champions League. Our group is probably one of the most competitive, with two teams from last year’s FINAL4 and Thüringer HC, who almost made it to Budapest last season. I’m always looking forward to the matches against the strongest opponents because only then can we raise our own form and see if we are where we need to be.

What does participation in the Women’s EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?

Dragan Adzic: To our club and practically our whole small country, participation in the Women’s EHF Champions League is an invaluable opportunity to represent Montenegro and Buducnost on the highest handball stage.

Which teams are your personal favourites to reach the FINAL4 tournament of the Women’s EHF Champions League season and why?

Dragan Adzic: I believe this season will be even better, because all the top teams have stronger squads compared to last season. In my opinion there is an increasing investment in female handball, and that creates new centres such as Skopje (Vardar) and Romania (Baia Mare). Of course Györ, Vardar, Larvik, Viborg, Baia Mare, Thüringer HC and Buducnost are the teams that have ambition and the most potential to be part of the FINAL4.

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

Newcomer: Katarina Bulatovic (Györi Audi ETO)

Left the club:
Elena Gjeorgjievska (HCM Baia Mare)
Irina Nikitina (HC Astrakhanocka)
Katarina Jezic (HC Lokomotiva Zagreb)
Marija Mugosa (Valur)
Olivera Vukcevic (ZORK Jagodina)

Coach: Dragan Adzic (since 2010)

Women’s EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2014/15 season): 19
Winner: 2011/12
Semi-finalist: 1997/98, 1998/99, 1999/00, 2000/01, 2001/02, 2010/11, 2013/14
Quarter-finals: 2002/03, 2003/04
Last 16: 1995/96
Main Round: 2008/09, 2012/13
Group Phase/Champions League: 1996/97, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2009/10

Other EC records

Cup Winners’ Cup
Winner: 1984/85, 2005/06, 2009/10

IHF Cup
Winner: 1986/87

Montenegrin league: 26 titles (1985, 1989, 1990, 1992-2014)
Montenegrin cup: 19 titles (1984, 1989, 1995-1998, 2000-2002, 2005-2014)
Regional league: 5 times (2010-2014)


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cg
 
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