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21.09.2016, 14:40
Besiktas and ABC throw off the new season
«Go back »Print Version


GROUP D PREVIEW: Besiktas and ABC/UMinho will open the season in a fanatical atmosphere, while Nantes and TTH Holstebro are eyeing important wins in their maiden season

»EHF CL Channel »2016-17 Men's CL
»Group Phase
»
 

Besiktas and ABC throw off the new season

To an untrained eye, teams from France and Denmark should always be favourites in such match-ups. However, HBC Nantes and TTH Holstebro are both playing their first ever games in the VELUX EHF Champions League, and therefore things aren’t as clear-cut against Motor Zaporozhye and Dinamo Bucuresti. Group C and the season as a whole will throw off in style with a game between Besiktas Mogaz HT and Portuguese champions ABC/UMinho.

Besiktas Mogaz HT (TUR) vs ABC/UMinho (POR)

Wednesday, 21 September, 19:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

After a long wait, the VELUX EHF Champions League throws off in style, in what promises to be a carnivalesque setting in Izmit. Besiktas are making their comeback after one win last season in the toughest group of the competition.

This season, the Turkish side will be competing for one of the first two places that ensure a playoff berth in the Last 16. But the competition is far away from easy, and therefore Besiktas need to get off to a winning start in order to achieve their objectives.

After a winning start in which Besiktas won two games, including the Turkish Supercup against Goztepe, the motto is clear and it has already been repeated inside the dressing room: “The VELUX EHF Champions League is a totally different competition and we have to be better than ever.”

Müfit Arın, Besiktas’ coach, is confident that his team will prevail: “There is no such thing as an easy game in Europe, but with our fans’ support, I think we can play well and enjoy positive results.”

But their first opponents of the season, ABC/UMinho have already played in the competition, winning the Qualifying Tournament organised by Bregenz, after an impressive game against the hosts, in which the Portuguese prevailed 33:32.

The Portuguese side has seen Champions League Group Phase action for 15 years, but has plied their trade in the EHF Challenge Cup, which they won last season.

“After being part of two straight EHF Challenge Cup Finals and winning the Portuguese championship, the club, and the players have the chance to express themselves on the highest level. Our objective is to progress to the next phase,” said Carlos Resende, Braga’s coach.

HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR) vs HBC Nantes (FRA)

Thursday, 22 September, 18:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

It will be a special game for last year’s EHF Cup finalist, as the French side will make their debut in the VELUX EHF Champions League. Having been awarded a wild card for the group phase, Nantes will refine their trade in Europe’s top competition, but their first trip will be nothing short of difficult.

Motor is at their fourth consecutive season in the group phase and will try to emulate last season’s performance, when they went all the way to the Last 16 and lost only once on their home court in Brovary, against to-be finalists Telekom Veszprém.

It will be the third game of the season for Nantes, who already played in the Trophée des Champions in France, winning the semi-final against Saint-Raphael Var Handball, 29:28, but losing the final against PSG by a nine-goal margin, 26:35.

“The game against PSG was an important one for us, because it was played against one of the greatest teams in Europe. We are playing in the VELUX EHF Champions League this season and we will face powerful teams.

“Maybe the opponents will not be as powerful as PSG in the first phase, but we learnt some important lessons after this loss,” said Thierry Anti, Nantes’ coach, after the defeat against the French champions.

On the other side, Motor have only two competitive games under their belt, but both of them were wins. The Ukrainian side won at their first tie in the domestic championship, 36:28, against ZNTU-ZAS, while the second game brought Motor the Ukrainian Supercup, with a 31:21 win against ZTR Zaporozhye.



TTH Holstebro (DEN) vs Dinamo Bucuresti (ROU)
Sunday, 25 September, 16:50 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

It was a long a difficult road, but Dinamo Bucuresti are back in the VELUX EHF Champions League, after an 11-year hiatus. The Romanian side was closer to bankruptcy than to coming back into the elite, as they found new homes in Brasov and Calarasi during the last five years. 



However, coming back to Bucharest was the first step to a new era and Dinamo won their first title last season, after a tough battle with CSM Bucuresti.

But Dinamo will have their work cut out for them in the new season, having to make do with a 18-man roster in both the VELUX EHF Champions League and the Romanian League.



The Romanian champions improved their roster with two Iranian brothers, Sajad and Allahkaram Esteki and with Romanian sharpshooters Alin Sania and Bogdan Criciotoiu, two experienced backs that will definitely improve Dinamo’s woes around the 9-meter line.

Their first trip in this season is to Denmark, where TTH Holstebro, a newbie in the European competition, will be waiting for a winning start.

The “Red Dogs” have enjoyed a winning start to the season, with five wins in their five matches, including two wins against rivals CSM Bucuresti, one of them in the Romanian Supercup, and they will want to continue their winning ways in Denmark.

“We concluded the first part of our season, now we are focusing on the VELUX EHF Champions League. I am happy with what we achieved, but we have to be more focused in the next matches,” said Dinamo’s coach, Eliodor Voica.

Dinamo’s mission will not be an easy one, as TTH Holstebro are targeting the competition’s next phase in their maiden voyage. The Danish runners-up from last season will be making a home debut after two wins in the local league and one unexpected defeat in the Last 16 of the Danish Cup.


“We are not fully gelled as a team, and we need to be better. But we are delighted to be playing in the VELUX EHF Champions League and it is one of our top objectives this season. I hope to win as many points as possible,” said Patrick Westerholm, Holstebro’s coach.


TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / bc
 
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