EHF Cup countdown, part 12: HC Vojvodina (SRB)
"Biggest challenge" awaits for Serbian champions
Serbia will be represented in the EHF Cup Group Phase for the first time since the implementation of the current system and HC Vojvodina are proud to be the team to fly the flag.
The three-time Serbian champions might not have experienced this stage of the competition before, but their impressive home, Spens Arena, has already hosted matches in the Men's and Women's EHF EURO, the 2013 Women's World Championship and the final of the SEHA Liga.
The Novi Sad side failed in their attempts to reach the VELUX EHF Champions League this season, falling to Tatran Presov in qualification, but they bounced back to make it one step further in the EHF Cup than the Slovakian outfit, by beating SKA Minsk on aggregate.
Vojvodina were then drawn in Group C, where they will face Skjern (DEN), Berlin (GER) and Porto (POR) and will therefore be delighted to welcome back long-term injury absentees Danimir Ćurković and Nikola Arsenić against the difficult troika.
Coach Djordje Ćirković has an almost entirely Serbian squad to pick from, with Bosnia and Georgia the only other countries represented, each with one player.
Ćirković previously led Vojvodina between 2010 and 2012, before returning for the 2013/14 season - ending the long series of successes in the Serbian league for Belgrade-based teams such as Partizan and Red Star.
Club director Darko Jetvtić is honoured that his club will participate in the group phase. He said: “It obliges us to be more efficient and more organised. By qualifying for the group phase we have given the fans in Serbia at least three handball spectacles, and we must be worthy of it.”
Team captain, Ćurković, added: “The opportunity to compete with top European teams, is not an everyday opportunity, so we will give our best to stay in the EHF Cup as long as possible.”
Three questions for coach Djordje Ćirković:
eurohandball.com: What are your expectations for the EHF Cup Group Phase, regarding your objectives and your group opponents?
Djordje Ćirković: "We have opponents like Porto, Berlin and Skjern with passion and love for handball, and this leads us to be the best we have ever been in all respects."
eurohandball.com: What does participation in the EHF Cup Group Phase mean to you and your club?
Djordje Ćirković: "I must admit that for me playing in the group phase of EHF Cup will be my biggest coaching challenge. Vojvodina and the city of Novi Sad were given the opportunity to host the top teams, so we will be ready and we cannot wait."
eurohandball.com: Which teams are your favourites to reach the EHF Cup Finals?
Djordje Ćirković: "There are so many quality teams who can reach the final tournament. I would not like to single out the names because it will be very uncertain."
HC Vojvodina (SRB)
The road to the Group Stage:
Qualifying Round 3: Vojvodina vs. SKA Minsk 27:22, 25:28
Newcomers: Miloš Orbović (HC Vrbas), Sergo Datukashvili (AL-SADD), Boban Živković (HC Zeleznicar-Nis), Vuk Lazović (HC Red Star Belgrade)
Left the club: Miljan Pušica (Wisla Plock), Miloš Barišić (retired), Stevan Popov (retired), Milorad Radišić (retired)
Coach: Djordje Ćirković (since 2013)
EHF European Cup competitions records:
VELUX EHF Champions League:
Other EC records:
Serbian league: Champions 2004/05, 2012/13, 2013/14
TEXT: Björn Pazen / jh
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