Countdown, part 3: HC Podravka Vegeta
They have the longest tradition in the Women’s EHF Champions League – and in their 19th season in the competition Podravka Vegeta hope to proceed to the Main Round again, after an absence of three years.
The Croatian record champions from the town of Koprivnica have not made any major changes to their line-up for 2012-13. Their highest profile newcomer is Hungarian international Anita Bulath, arriving from Veszprém.
The 1996 Women’s EHF Champions League winners are aiming to reach the next stage of the competition after they had missed the Main Round three times since 2009.
“To still be in the competition in spring” is the objective of the Podravka club, which have a new president this season with Jörn Pedersen being the successor of Krunoslav Bešvir.
As usual Kopivnica are the big favourites in their domestic league, and in their second competition - the multi-national regional women’s handball league (WHRL) - they want to gain more success than in the previous seasons. And the WHRL is perfect preparation for their international matches in the Women’s EHF Champions League.
Club director Božica Palčić is confident that his team have a good chance despite strong opponents in the Group Matches.
“Podravka are preparing to make at least one step forward in this season of the Champions League,” he said. “We are aware once again that, unfortunately, we are in a very strong group, but it does not mean we will lessen our goals."
“After analyzing last year presence in the Champions League we set list of things we had to improve. In my opinion, we have done everything on that list and we are a much more forceful team than last year. We kept all our key players and coaches and Podravka are ready to be the surprise team of this year’s competition.”
Team captain Miranda Tatari does not care about big names: “Every group in the Champions League is hard, so I can say the same for our group. The goal of each team is to reach the Main Round, and we would like to finish third at least in the group. We will fight until the end and maybe we can surprise and proceed to the next stage. This Champions League season is very important for our club and we will do everything in our power to achieve those goals.”
Three questions to coach Neven Hrupec:
What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the Women’s EHF Champions League?
Neven Hrupec: Our group is very strong. Györi Audi ETO KC are the favourites in our group. Krim Mercator also have a strong team with 10 new players.
What does the participation in the Women’s EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?
Neven Hrupec: Every match in our group will be difficult and very interesting. This season HC Podravka Vegeta want to be first in our group and stay in European competitions in the spring.
What teams are your personal favourites to win the Women’s EHF Champions League season – and why?
Neven Hrupec: My number one is Györ, followed by Oltchim and Krim. They have many good players and I think they will be the favourite in season 2012/13.
HC Podravka Vegeta
Qualification for the Women’s EHF Champions League 2012/13 season: Croatian champions
Newcomers: Anita Bulath (Veszprém/HUN), Žana Čović (RK Lokomotiva/CRO)
Left the club: Ivana Petković (RK Zelina/CRO), Dina Havić (RK Zamet/CRO), Maja Kožnjak (RK Lokomotiva/CRO)
Coach: Neven Hrupec since 2010.
Women’s EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2012/13 season): 19
Main Round: 2000/01, 2001/02, 2008/09
Group Phase/Champions League: 1993/94, 1998/99, 1999/00, 2002/03, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12
Qualification: 2003/04, 2005/06
Other EC records:
Cup Winners Cup:
Finalist: 2000/01, 2005/06
Croatian champions: 19 times
Croatian Cup winners: 18 times
Find more information about HC Podravka Vegeta HERE
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TEXT: Björn Pazen