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30.09.2015, 14:44
Never change a winning team
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COUNTDOWN: 16 days to the Women's EHF Champions League start and the defending champions Buducnost Podgorica start the countdown series.
 

Never change a winning team

For the second time Buducnost are the hunted, not the hunters. The defending champions have a clear motto based on continuity: "Never change a winning team, neither on court, nor on the bench, in staff or administration".

Coach Dragan Adzic extended his contract until 2020, all key field players stayed in the Montenegrin capital, the only change occurred between the goal posts: team captain and 2015 MVM EHF FINAL4 MVP Clara Woltering (pictured below/to Dortmund) as well as Marina Rajcic (to Metz) left Buducnost.

So the big responsibility on this key position lies on the shoulders of Croatian international Marta Zderic. At her side, the young goalkeeper talents Ana Rajkovic and Ljubica Nenezic shall grow and learn.

In addition, Buducnost remained on their traditional way of including talents into the well-rehearsed and well-balanced squad in their 20th season in the European top flight.

There’s no big name among their new arrivals, just young players eager to prove themselves like Djurdjina Malovic, Djurdjina Jaukovic (Women’s 19 EHF EURO 2015 Top Scorer & MVP), Ema Ramusovic, Dijana Ujkic (all from their own youth programme), as well as Serbian Jovana Kovacevic or the 17-year-old Croatian super-talent Matea Pletikosic, best centre back of the Women's 17 EHF EURO last summer.

“Our success from last season will give our team new energy and convince them that they can do it all again. The players will know each other even better than last season and this is a big advantage in the next Champions League season, which, perhaps, will be the strongest in the last five or six seasons,” says Adzic.

“As we do not have a strong league, the Champions League has always the biggest focus in our club,” adds sports director Bojana Popovic, six-time winner of the EHF Champions League.

Buducnost will face Bucharest, Sävehof and Lublin in Group D of the first stage and are supposed to be the clear favourite in this group.

“Our goals are always high and we work on this principle and prepare the team to think always that way,” says Popovic, adding: “New challenges are ahead of us this year, as in my opinion the level of competition will increase. Almost all top teams were reinforced by top players, but this motivates us to work even harder.”

Team captain Radmila Petrovic expects “a heavier season compared to last year”, as it will be much harder to repeat the success of winning the trophy, but: “I believe in my team and I hope we will make it to the FINAL4. If we are in Budapest, everything is possible. In any case it will be very interesting season.”

In terms of opponents, Popovic is aware of all three of them, showing respect and underlining that her team needs full attention and preparation to beat them.

“There is no room for relaxation in this group. Sävehof are a young team coming from the excellent Swedish handball school. Bucharest are a team full of stars from several countries, matches against them will be the most difficult in our group. Lublin showed last year that they can cope with all rivals, especially at home,” Popovic said.

Petrovic agrees that Buducnost were drawn into a strong group with Bucharest being the hardest opponent.

“They have a lot of great players in their squad, and I’m sure that they deserve to be at the FINAL4.

Lublin have a great potential and Sävehof will be eager to prove their abilities with a great motivation against us. We have respect for every opponent, but I hope that we will make it to the main round from the top position with the maximum of points,” Buducnost captain said.

WHC Buducnost (MNE)
Qualification for the 2015/16 Women’s EHF Champions League season: Montenegrin champions

Newcomer: Matea Pletikosic (RK Sinj)
Left the club: Clara Woltering (Borussia Dortmund), Marina Rajcic (Metz), Zeljka Nikolic (Ringkobing), Camilla Dalby (Randers)

Coach: Dragan Adzic (since 2010)
Team captain: Radmila Petrovic

Women’s EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2015/16 season): 20
Winner: 2011/12, 2014/15
Semi-finals: 1997/98, 1998/99, 1999/00, 2000/01, 2001/02, 2010/11, 2013/14
Main Round: 2012/13
Quarter-finals: 2002/03, 2003/04
Last 16: 1995/96
Group Matches/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: 27 titles (1985, 1989, 1990, 1992-2015)
Montenegrin cup: 20 titles (1984, 1989, 1995-1998, 2000-2002, 2005-2015)


TEXT: Björn Pazen / br
 
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