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02.02.2018, 10:50
Big comeback with big name on the bench
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EHF Cup countdown #11: RD Koper 2013 (SLO). Having rebuilt the club over the past four years, the Slovenian side are back on the European handball map with a young team led by legendary coach Veselin Vujovic
 

Big comeback with big name on the bench

In 2013 a big name of Slovenian handball disappeared from the scene due to financial problems: Cimos Koper, winners of the EHF Challenge Cup in 2011 and quarter-finalists in the EHF Champions League the following year.

But the end was also the start of a new club: RD Koper. Within four years, the new management established the club among the best teams in Slovenia again, hoping to bridge the gap to leading duo Celje and Velenje in the next years.

Now Koper is back on the international map having qualified for the EHF Cup Group Phase.

Last year RD Koper failed in the qualification, but this time they eliminated Gwardia Opole in the final qualification round. After losing the first leg in Poland 30:25, they turned the tide in Slovenia and won the return leg by six goals (27:21).

With a very young and almost all-Slovenian team, which build the base for the younger age category national teams, Koper signed a mastermind of coaching in August 2017: Veselin Vujovic, the first ever IHF World Player of the Year, who is also coaching the Slovenian men’s national team. He succeeded Zoran Jovicic.

In Group C, Koper face defending champions Göppingen, their Croatian neighbours Nexe, and Cocks from Finland.

“These games will be a great and useful experience for our young players as most of them compete at this level for the first time,” Vujovic says. “We expect to be competitive with all those teams on home court. In any case, our wish is to progress. We are aware that this goal will be very difficult to achieve. If we do our best but that won’t be enough, it will be nothing tragic.”

For the coach, Göppingen and Berlin are the main contenders for making it to the EHF Cup Finals in Magdeburg. Regarding his own club, Vujovic is proud that they made it among the best 16 teams of the EHF Cup.

“This is considered a great success, which will be a big challenge for all of us, especially for players and the management of the club, which must provide adequate financial resources,” he says.

Right before the start of the group phase, one club legend announced his retirement: Koper-born goalkeeper Jure Vran (33) called it a career after being ruled out by injuries.

RD Koper 2013 (SLO)

Qualification for the EHF Cup Group Phase 2017/18: Round 3: 25:30, 27:21 against Opole (POL)

Newcomers: Janez Gucek (DOL TKI Hrastnik), Ivan Sever (RK Umag), Nejc Poklar, Marko Nikolic

Left the club: Jan Gorela, Rok Gašperšič (RK Jadran)

Coach: Veselin Vujovic (since August 2017, successor of Zoran Jovicic)

Team captain: Uros Rapotec

Opponents in the group matches: Göppingen, Nexe, Cocks in Group C

EHF Champions League records:
Quarter-finalists: 2011/12
Group Phase: 2008/09
Qualification: 2012/13

Other European Cup records:

Cup Winners’ Cup:
-

EHF Cup:
Semi-finalists: 2007/08
Group Phase: 2012/13

EHF Challenge Cup:
Winners 2010/11

Slovenian champions: 2011
Slovenian cup winners: 2008, 2009, 2011


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