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25.09.2017, 14:20
Home FINAL4 feels further away for FTC
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Women’s EHF Champions League countdown: FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria have not made many changes to the side which fell just short in the quarter-finals last season
 

Home FINAL4 feels further away for FTC

FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria dream of playing the Women’s EHF FINAL4 in their home city Budapest, but despite the signing of Dutch shooter Laura van der Hejden, they are realistic enough to set their goal as the quarter-finals.

Three questions before the new season:

Will FTC progress safely from Group C?

“Vardar are outstandingly good, but the other teams are equally strong, this is the most balanced group,” says FTC Executive Director László Bognár.

While FTC’s squad did not change that much, Larvik lost several top players, while Vardar and Thüringer HC bolstered their line-ups. On paper, the Hungarian runners-up have a good chance to finish second in the group behind the Macedonian champions.

Can the dream of playing a home Women’s EHF FINAL4 come true?

No team has a shorter distance to the final destination of the Women’s EHF Champions League, as the Papp Laszlo Arena in Budapest is just around the corner for FTC.

But the route feels longer than last year with Györ, Bucharest, Vardar and Rostov the main contenders to reach final tournament, while strong newcomers such as Brest, Bietigheim and Nyköbing may also be knocking on the door.

For FTC, everything depends on the luck of the quarter-final draw, but they have to get there first.

Can FTC overcome Györ in any competition?

Two years ago, FTC Rail Cargo Hungaria beat Györ in the finals of the Hungarian league, since then, they had no chance against their arch rivals. In the 2015/16 quarter-finals, FTC were taught a lesson by Györ over two legs.

Gabor Elek’s side may have a chance to beat their domestic rivals in a one-off encounter, but a two-legged quarter-final encounter may be too much to ask.

Under the spotlight: Laura Van der Heijden

After learning her trade at German side VfL Oldenburg, the Dutch left back had made her next step by joining Danish side Esbjerg, where she had her first experience at this level last season.

Now she joins national teammate Dannick Snelder, who arrived one year ago. Van der Hejden was the top scorer of the 2010 Junior World Championship and has progressed to the senior national team, winning silver at EHF EURO 2016.

Self-esteem

The goal stated by FTC is to reach the quarter-finals. “For our team this is a great challenge and it is an honour to play in the Women’s EHF Champions League,” says Bognár.

Team captain Klára Szekeres is confident of belonging among the top eight teams, but admits: “At Champions League level we will face only strong teams and we need to do our best. It will be hard, but we are working hard to fight for the FINAL4.”

Fun fact

Gabor Elek is not only one of the coaches with the longest coaching reign in the competition, dating back to 2008.

What the numbers say

Since 1993/94, Ferencvaros have played in the European Cup each and every season. Besides playing 18 seasons in the EHF Champions League, FTC were part of the Cup Winners’ Cup seven times and the EHF Cup twice.

FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN)

Qualification for the 2017/18 Women’s EHF Champions League season: Hungarian runners-up

Newcomers: Laura van der Heijden (Team Esbjerg), Gréta Márton (MTK Budapest, on loan)

Left the club: Adrienn Szarka (Békéscsabai NKSE), Szandra Szöllősi-Zácsik (Budaörs Handball), Orsolya Monori (Dunaújvárosi Kohász Kézilabda Akadémia)

Coach: Gábor Elek, since 2008

Team captain: Klára Szekeres

Women’s EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2017/18 season): 18
Finalists: 2001/02
Semi-finalists: 1996/97, 2000/01
Quarter-finalists: 1999/2000, 2002/03, 2003/04, 2015/16, 2016/17
Group Matches/Champions League: 1994/95, 1995/96, 1997/98, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2012/13, 2013/14
Qualification: 2009/10, 2014/15

Other EC records:

EHF Cup
Winner: 2005/06
Semi-finalist: 2004/05

Cup Winners’ Cup
Winners: 2010/11, 2011/12
Finalists: 1993/94
Semi-finalists: 2006/07, 2014/15

Hungarian league: 12 titles (1966, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2007, 2015)

Hungarian cup winner: 12 tiles (1955, 1967, 1970, 1972, 1977, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2003)


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor
 
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