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03.10.2017, 09:00
Managarova: “It’s time to take revenge”
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Women’s EHF Champions League countdown: Rostov-Don aim to recover from the disappointment of unexpectedly early elimination in 2016/17 with one of the strongest squads ever fielded by the Russian club.
 

Managarova: “It’s time to take revenge”

They started as one of the main contenders to win the Women’s EHF Champions League in 2016/17, but the dream was over after the group phase.

With Frederic Bougeant as their new coach, Rostov-Don restarted in the EHF Cup, won the trophy, finished the Russian Super League season undefeated – and are now eager to make it to the winners’ podium again.

Three questions before the new season:
Have Rostov learned their lesson?


For the 2016/17 group phase, they were drawn into the ‘group of death’ with the two 2016 finalists: Györ and Bucuresti, plus Danish side FC Midtjylland. Despite having one of the best squads in the competition, Rostov failed to qualify for the main round, with one possible reason being that their Russian Olympians had run out of power.

Now, everybody at Rostov-Don is sure and confident that they learned their lesson the hard way – and they have the chance to take revenge against Györ and Midtjylland in the group phase this season.

How will the new arrivals affect the team?

It is hard for any team to replace world class goalkeeper Katrine Lunde, but Rostov found a former world champion: Brazilian Mayssa Pessoa, from Vardar.

Aside from Pessoa’s arrival, Katarina Bulatovic carries a lot of hope to strengthen the right side of the attack together with Anna Vyakhireva, while fellow new arrival Marina Sudakova was part of the Olympic gold medalist team.

Thus, the squad looks even stronger than in the previous years.

Can Rostov make it all the way to Budapest?

Two seasons ago, they were unbeaten in all 12 matches in the group stage and main round, before they were eliminated by the team that went on to become champions, Bucuresti, in the quarter-final. Rostov have therefore already been close to the final destination.

This season, the goal of reaching the FINAL4 is a realistic one. Aside from Györ, Vardar and Bucuresti, Rostov have the strongest squad in the competition on paper.

Under spotlight: Katarina Bulatovic

If you look at the two current Women’s EHF Champions League players who can win their fifth trophy this season, Bulatovic seems to have the better base for it.

Just like the Montenegrin back, Norwegian (and former Rostov) goalkeeper Katrine Lunde has won the Champions League four times, but with her new club, Kristiansand, it would be a real surprise if she makes it to Budapest.

Bulatovic has raised the trophy with three different clubs (Slagelse, Buducnost twice, and Györ) and would become the first female player ever to win the competition with four clubs if she claims the 2017/18 title. But the way to the podium is steep, as Rostov were unfortunate to demonstrate last season.

Self-esteem

After naming the Champions League trophy as their major goal before the start of the 2016/17 season, Rostov approach 2017/18 with more humble ambitions: “We will do our best to get to the next round,” says club management.

“Our main goal is not to disappoint our fans and to perform as well as we can. All opponents are familiar to us. It’s time to take revenge,” adds team captain Iuliia Managarova.

Fun fact

Before joining Rostov in January 2016, coach Frederic Bougeant led the Senegal national team, with whom he experienced significant disappointment at the 2017 African championships.

After sensationally beating Tunisia in the semi-final, and booking a ticket to the World Championship in Germany with that victory, Senegal were excluded from the tournament as an ineligible player was on court.
 
What the numbers say

Seven of the 14 Russian players that won the Olympic gold medal at Rio 2016 play for Rostov, led by Games MVP Anna Vyakhireva, who is expected to make her international comeback after several injuries soon.

Rostov-Don (RUS)

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

Newcomers: Mayssa Pessoa (HC Vardar), Katarina Bulatovic (Buducnost), Marina Sudakova (Kuban), Oxana Cvirinko (Odense Håndbold)

Left the club: Katrine Lunde (Vipers Kristiansand), Lotte Grigel (DVSC-TVP), Olga Chernoivanenko, Maria Basarab (both break from handball)

Coach: Frederic Bougeant (since February 2017)

Team captain: Iuliia Managarova

Women’s EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2017/18 season): 5
Quarter-final (1): 2015/16
Group matches (1): 2016/17
Qualification (3): 2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14

Other EC records:
EHF Cup
Winner 2016/17
Finalist 2014/15
Quarter-finals: 2009/10
Cup Winners Cup:
Semi-finalist: 2012/13, 2013/14
Quarter-finals: 2010/11

Russian league: Five titles (1989/90, 1990/91 (USSR/EUN), 1993/94, 2014/15, 2016/17)
Russian Cup: 10 titles (1979/80, 1980/81, 1981/82 (USSR), 2006/07, 2007/08, 2011/12, 2012/13, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17)


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cg
 
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