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20.09.2017, 10:10
Bolstered Györ with sights set on history
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Women’s EHF Champions League countdown: Györi Audi ETO KC expected to go far once again as they aim to defend their crown in Budapest for the first time
 

Bolstered Györ with sights set on history

No club has yet to win the Women’s EHF FINAL4 two years in a row, but defending champions Györ have put themselves in a strong position to change that with their summer transfer activity.

After signing players such as Stine Oftedal and Anja Althaus, Hungarian powerhouse look primed to challenge for their fourth title.

Three questions before the new season:

Will Györ be the first side to defend their title since the implementation of the Women’s EHF FNAL4?

In 2014, when the event premiered at Papp Laszlo Sportrena in Budapest, Györ were the first winners and defended their 2013 title, which they had won in the old format of two finals against Larvik.

It is safe to say Györ belong to the top contenders again this season and they expect nothing less than gold.

Will pre-season injuries have any impact?

Goalkeeper Kari Aalvik Grimsbö, left back Zsuzsanna Tomori and playmaker Nycke Groot underwent surgeries over the summer and while Tomori is already back training with the team, Groot and Grimsbö are expected to return by the time the group matches begin.

Will it be the trophy-laden year for coach Ambros Martin?

The Spaniard, who led Györ to all three EHF Champions League trophies in 2013, 2014 and 2017, is also the Romanian national team coach since autumn 2016.

As 2015 World Championship bronze medallists, Romania will be aiming for another run to the latter stages of the 2017 edition this December in Germany.

Under the spotlight: Anja Althaus

Althaus had said farewell to elite handball after losing the 2017 final with HC Vardar, ready to move on to the next chapter in her life, until a phone call changed everything.

The 35-year-old German line player received an offer from Györ to reconsider her retirement and she admitted: “This is a challenge I could not say no to.

“To play for Györ was my dream since I began to play handball,” added the two-time EHF Champions League winner (2009, 2010 with Viborg).

Self-esteem

With a smooth integration of the new players, Györ’s target for the season is clear.

“We want to defend our position among the best women’s club teams, to be part of the FINAL4 and to repeat the success of last season,” says club president Dr. Csaba Bartha, adding:  “We know our group matches opponents, such as EHF Cup winners Rostov, very well, we are expecting very tough matches against them, but we are already looking forward to the pleasure of taking part in the competition.”

Team captain and three-time champion Anita Görbicz is eager to “show not only our fans, but also the handball world that we are able to reach our goals again.

“We want to go to Budapest again and of course we want to do everything to defend the title. But we have to take our opponents seriously from the very start.”   

What the numbers say

Györ have reached the semi-finals an incredible ten times in the past eleven years since the 2006/07 season.

The only time they missed out was in 2014/15. Winning the trophy three times in 2013, 2014 and 2017 means that they are only one short of record winners Hypo Niederösterreich.

Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN)

Qualification for the 2017/18 Women’s EHF Champions League season: Hungarian champions

Newcomers: Csenge Fodor (NEKA), Anja Althaus (HC Vardar), Stine Bredal Oftedal (Issy Paris Hand), Anne Mette Hansen (København Håndbold), Sára Afentaler, Binó Boglárka, Tamara Pál, Fanni Szilovics, Emőke Varga (all from Győri Audi ETO KC youth team)

Left the club: Asma Elghaoui (Siófok), Gabriella Tóth (on loan at Érd), Júlia Hársfalvi (on loan at DVSC-TVP), Rita Lakatos (on loan Váci NKSE), Dorina Korsós (on loan Tus Metzingen)

Coach: Ambros Martín (since 2012)

Team captain: Anita Görbicz

Women’s EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2017/18 season): 15
Winners: 2012/13, 2013/14, 2016/17
Finalists: 2008/09, 2011/12, 2015/16
Semi-finalists: 2006/07, 2007/08, 2009/10, 2010/11
Quarter-finalists: 2014/15
Group Matches: 2000/01, 2005/06
Qualification: 2004/05

Other EC records:

Cup Winners Cup:
Finalists: 2005/06
Semi-finalists: 2002/03

EHF Cup:
Finalists : 1998/99, 2001/02, 2003/04, 2004/05

Hungarian league:  13 titles (1957, 1959, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017)

Hungarian Cup: 12 titles (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor
 
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