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14.09.2015, 18:00
Big names for a potential underdog
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VELUX EHF Champions League club countdown: 2 days to go - HCM Baia Mare (ROU)

»EHF CL Channel »
 

Big names for a potential underdog

After 16 years, a men’s team from Baia Mare is back in the Champions League - in 1998 and 1999 they played the 1/16 round and came up short twice under their old name Minaur Baia Mare. HCM is, apart from HC Vardar, the only club with a male and a female Champions League participant.

For the third time they became Romanian champions and by winning this they ended the long series of trophies for HCM Constanta.

In Group D, Baia Mare will face Metalurg, Skjern, Zaporozhye, Schaffhausen and the winner of the Qualification Tournament - Elverum Handball Herrer.

Ivan Karacic arrives from Meshkov Brest, former Veszprem wing Tamas Ivancsik joined the Romanian side as well as his former team mate Uros Vilovski, Inal Aflitulin arrived from their opponents Zaporozhye and Vladislav Ostroushko from Hungarian side Csurgoi.

Romanian champions have benefitted greatly from their Danish born coach Lars Walther, who had been coaching clubs in Denmark, Germany, Slovenia and Italy, before he took over Wisla Plock from 2010 to 2013 to lead them to the Polish championship and the VELUX EHF Champions League.

Since 2014, Walther has been Baia Mare’s coach.

Walther expects tight games in their group with his country fellows from Skjern being the favourites for the top position: “Skjern, Kadetten, Motor and Metalurg are teams with a lot of Champions League experience, we are a potential underdog.

“But we are here to learn. It is very important for us to show Europe that interesting things are happening in Romanian handball and especially in Baia Mare.”

Manager Liviu Bala hopes to gain international experience too: “Coming back to play in major European club competition is a great honour for us.

“It is our aim to gain experience and to qualify for the Last 16.”

To reach this goal, team captain Viorel Fotache wants to focus on the home strength of his team:

“Our aim is to try and win our home games because the away game will be difficult for us due to our lack of experience.

“Kadetten are the team with the most experience in our group and I am sure they will be in first place by the end of the Group Phase.”
Unfortunately for Walther, two key players missed the season preparation - Antonio Pribanic and Karacic are injured, but both are supposed to be back on track for the start of the Champions League season.

HCM Baia Mare (ROU)

Qualification for the 2015/2016 VELUX EHF Champions League season: Romanian champions

Newcomers:  Uros Vilovski (Balatonfüredi), Tamas Ivancsik (Balatonfüredi) , Ivan Karacic (Meshkov Brest), Ionut Ramba (HC Odorhei), Vladislav Ostroushko (Csurgoi KK), Cristi Ghita (Selestat), Inal Aflitulin (HC Motor), Albert Cristescu (HCM Constanta).

Left the club:  Steffen Stegavik (Elverum), Nikola Eklemovic (retired), Andrei Grasu (CSA Steaua), Patricio Martinez Chavez (retired), Ivan Milas (Gwardia Opole) ,Cristian Malmagro (unknown), Daniel Muresan (retired).

Coach: Lars Walther since 2014

Opponents in the Group Phase: Metalurg, Skjern, Schaffhausen, Zaporozhye, Elverum Handball Herrer in Group D

VELUX EHF Champions League records:

Participations (including 2015/16 season): 3
1/16 round: 1998/99, 1999/00 (as Minaur Baia Mare)

Other achievements:

EHF Challenge Cup:
Quarter-final 2003/04, 2004/05

Romanian champion: 1998, 1999, 2015

Romanian Cup winner: 1978, 1983, 1984, 1989, 1999, 2015


TEXT: Björn Pazen / bc
 
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