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17.08.2018, 12:00
A new beginning for the Red Dogs
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VELUX EHF Champions League Countdown: Dimamo Bucuresti (ROU). With some serious changes made to the team, the Romanian side want to improve from last season
 

A new beginning for the Red Dogs

Not even the most optimistic Dinamo fan hoped for the Red Dogs to win their third consecutive title in the Romanian league halfway through last season. The team was in turmoil and the players looked like they could not care less.

Coach Eliodor Voica was ultimately replaced by Constantin Stefan, and everything got back on track. After a tumultuous final against archrivals Steaua, Dinamo snatched the title.

Now, the Romanian champions are facing another challenge on European level: qualifying for the VELUX EHF Champions League Group C/D Play-offs for the first time.

Three questions before the new season:

- How will the new Dinamo look?


In Romanian football, Dinamo Bucharest is being dubbed the ‘New Dinamo’ as the team are constantly shapeshifting and rehashing their roster. This season, the handball team can also be called the New Dinamo, with seven newcomers ushered in, including three Tunisian players.

It is a change of strategy for the Romanian champions, who lost two of their best players after Iranian brothers Sajad and Allahkaram Esteki signed for domestic rivals CSM Bucuresti. Communication might become an issue with no less than eight different nationalities from three continents in Dinamo’s roster.

- Will they do enough for the fans to sell out the arena?

The Dinamo fans are one of the best in Romania and they can surely tilt the scales in favour of their heroes. A packed Dinamo arena, albeit compact, can become one of the toughest places to play in the VELUX EHF Champions League. Ask any Besiktas player how loud the fans were two seasons ago, when the Turkish side snatched a draw in what proved to be a dramatic finish. Any team need their fans and Dinamo can be surely better with the proper support. “We have the greatest fans from Europe and with them behind us, we will be stronger and will be able to compete with all the opponents,” said Florin Vasiliu, the team’s manage.

- How will the new coach cope after 13 years away from the Champions League?

When Dinamo were in a desperate need of change a few months ago, coach Eliodor Voica was replaced by Constantin Stefan. It will be Stefan’s third stint as Dinamo coach. The 50-year-old coach was also in charge when the Red Dogs won the title in 2004/05. In the following Champions League season, Stefan and Dinamo won only one game in a group which also included Ciudad Real, Veszprém and Presov.

Under spotlight: Hugo Descat

A natural born scorer, Descat was a major transfer coup for Dinamo last season after they convinced him to leave France for the first time in his career. The 25-year old left wing is fast, has a huge handball IQ and his technique seems to be off the chart. Descat was the second-best top scorer in the French League three seasons ago, only nine goals behind Uwe Gensheimer. The French wing has carried that form to Dinamo, and scored 40 times in the VELUX EHF Champions League last season.

Self-esteem

Dinamo are proud of being the top club in Romania, but have failed to reproduce their domestic performances in European competitions, lagging behind other outfits in Romania. In their third consecutive season in the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase, Dinamo are eyeing a top three placement. “We want to improve what we did in the previous seasons, which means a place between the top three teams, and also to win more points than last season. It will be a challenge for us,” says Dinamo’s new captain, Dan Savenco.

Fun fact

If Dinamo want to improve their record in the VELUX EHF Champions League, they should start winning away games. The Romanian champions have never won an away game in the group stage of the European premium competition, with a draw against TTH Holstebro two seasons ago their best away result.

What the numbers say

Usually teams tend not to take a big leap between seasons, especially if they do not excel on the transfer market. Dinamo have brought new blood into their team, but their abysmal one-win record from last season will have to be dramatically improved if they were to contend for an elimination round berth.



Dinamo Bucuresti (ROU)

Qualification for the VELUX EHF Champions League 2017/18 season: Romanian champions

Newcomers: Makrem Missaoui (Club Africain Tunis), Amine Bannour (Chambery), Kamel Alouini (Al Ahli), Ante Kuduz (Pfadi Winterthur), Nicu Negru (CSM Bucuresti), Andras Szasz (CSM Bucuresti), Muhamed Zulfic (MYK Hentbol SK), Florin Acatrinei (CSM Fagaras).

Left the club: Sajad Esteki (CSM Bucuresti), Allahkaram Esteki (CSM Bucuresti), Marius Mocanu (HC Dobrogea Sud Constanta), Liviu Mironescu (HC Buzau), Vadim Gayduchenko (St. Raphael VAR), Daniel Bera (CSM Bucuresti), Milan Sajin (TBD)

Coach: Constantin Stefan (since January 2018)

Team captain: Dan Savenco

VELUX EHF Champions League records:

Participations (including 2017/18 season): 5
Group phase (3): 2005/06, 2016/17, 2017/18
Qualification (2): 1995/96, 1997/98

Other EC records:

EHF Cup:
Semi-final: 2003/04; Last 16: 2001/02, 2004/05

Cup Winners’ Cup:
Quarter-final: 2002/03

Challenge Cup:
Final: 2000/01; Semi-final: 2007/08

City Cup:
Semi-final: 1999/2000

European Champions’ Cup:
Winners: 1965

IHF Cup Winners’ Cup:
Final: 1983

Romanian league:
15 titles (1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1978, 1986, 1995, 1997, 2005, 2016, 2017, 2018)

Romanian cup:
4 titles (1979, 1982, 1988, 2017)


TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / ew
 
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