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30.09.2018, 12:00
Hard times coming for FTC?
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Women’s EHF Champions League countdown: FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN). Without key players this season, another opportunity to play in their home city for the FINAL4 could go missing again.
 

Hard times coming for FTC?

FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria said goodbye to the Women’s EHF Champions League last season at the quarter-final stage after losing to Romanian side CSM Bucuresti, and then missed out on the Hungarian league title after scoring just one goal less than rivals Györi Audi ETO KC in the last round.

With key players not available this season, FTC may have to wait another year for a breakthrough into the mega event in the Hungarian capital.

Three questions before the season:

How will FTC cope with the loss of key players?

Four big names and the base pillars of FTC’s playing system last season will not be on court this season with Zita Szucsanszki and former team captain Klara Szekeres choosing to pause their careers, Marija Jovanovic retiring from handball and Laura van der Heijden joining group match opponents, SG BBM Bietigheim.

The situation is made even worse as two new signings - Kinga Klivinyi and Bobana Klikovac – picked up serious injuries at the end of last season, so the challenge is on as Elek Gabor’s team prepare for a very tough and long season.

Can they reach the main round?

In the group match stages, FTC will have to fight for qualification through along with CSM Bucuresti - who finished last season with a bronze Champions League medal - Women’s EHF Cup finalists Vipers Kristiansand - EHF Cup finalist - and SG BBM Bietigheim, who won the qualification tournament after finishing as German league runners-up.

“I think we have the most difficult group,” said FTC head coach Gabor Elek. “CSM Bucuresti will win the group and the other teams will have to fight for second and third with our first goal of main round qualification.

“This season there are two outstanding teams in the competition – Gyor and Bucuresti – and behind them the field is balanced.”

Can the young talents cope with the pressure and become decisive players?

Greta Marton, Noemi Hafra and Dorottya Faluvegi were all part of the Hungarian national team who won the 2018 IHF Women’s Junior World Championship with Hafra and Faluvegi being named in the tournament’s All-Star team.

Last season Faluvegi scored 33 goals for FTC in the champions league – 11 of which were against HC Vardar, while Hafra showed off her ability to become a reliable player during the 2017 IHF Women’s World Championship in Germany carrying the Hungarian team on her shoulders.

Under the spotlight: Aniko Kovacsics

The two-time Champions League winner with Györi Audi ETO KC in 2013 and 2014 moved to FTC two years ago to play more and develop as a player. Now, she is not just the key player of FTC but in the summer, she became the team’s captain after Klara Szekeres decided to pause her career and there is no doubt that Kovacsics can handle this new role.

“My goal is only winning,” she said. “I believe if we as a team give our best, we can beat anyone. Of course, I dream about qualifying to the FINAL4 in Budapest, but I know that there are clubs that are better than us, but I hope our fans will stand with us and we can go far together.”

Self-esteem

In Women’s EHF Champions League history many teams have suffered from waves of injury, but during those tough periods they were more than capable of holding their own, even coming back stronger than before. Now FTC have extra motivation to show off their fighting skills, with the young talents and the new players looking to prove their aptitude of being top-level players.

“It is worth following the road which we chose for the club years before,” said Laszlo Bognar, Managing Director of FTC handball. “We will prove that with Hungarian players and humble work we can reach the FINAL4.

“We are far from being able to contract world-class foreign players and I do not want to enter this competition for them. In our team we have just four players from abroad and only in positions where there is no Hungarian player with the same skills who can move to us.”

FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN)

Qualification for the Women’s EHF Champions League 2018/19 season:
Hungarian league runners-up

Newcomers: Kinga Klivinyi (Erd), Zsofi Szemerey (Siofok KC), Kata Farkas (Bekescsabai ENKSE), Djurdjina Malovic (Buducnost), Bobana Klikovac (SCM Craiova)

Left the club: Zita Szucsanszki, Klara Szekeres (both career breaks), Laura van der Heijden (SG BBM Bietigheim), Marija Jovanovic (retired)

Coach: Gabor Elek (since 2007)

Team captain: Aniko Kovacsics

Women’s EHF Champions League record:

Participations (including 2018/19 season): 19
Final (1): 2001/02
Semi-final (2): 1996/97, 2000/01
Quarter-final (6): 1999/00, 2002/03, 2003/04, 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18
Main Round (1): 2012/13
Group Phase (6): 1994/95, 1995/96, 1997/98, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2013/14
Qualification Tournaments (2): 2009/10, 2014/15

Other EC records:

EHF Cup: Winners (2005/06), Semi Finals (2004/05)

Cup Winners Cup: Winners (2010/11, 2011/12), Semi Finals (2006/07, 2014/15)

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

Hungarian Cup winner: 12 times (1967, 1970, 1972, 1977, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2017)


TEXT: Béla Müller / amc
 
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