NEWS FEATURE: Dunaujvaros are two goals behind Metzingen after the first leg of the Women’s EHF Cup Final, but the team are ready to claim their first European title since winning the Champions League in 1999.
Dunaujvaros eager to lift European trophy after 17-year wait
After more than a decade Dunaujvarosi Kohasz Kezilabda Akademia are back in the final of the EHF Cup and ready to start the second leg from a promising position. Coach Zdravko Zovko’s team come into the home game two goals behind TuS Metzingen, but could emerge as winners of the competition 18 years after their first EHF Cup triumph in 1998, and 17 years after their last European cup victory when they won the EHF Champions League in 1999.
Thirteen years have passed since a women’s team from Dunaujvaros reached the final of a European tournament. The 2003 Dunaferr were the last of the generation that either won or were serious contenders for each and every available international women’s trophy between 1995 and 1999.
Household names like Bojana Radulovic, Bernadett Ferling and Bea Siti, who is currently part of the coaching staff for the women's national team, are no longer to be found in the ranks of Dunaujvaros, but the successors of the Dunaferr era form a fierce team nonetheless.
The players might not have too much international experience – for most of the squad the first leg of the final in Germany was their first ever international final – but their coach is a battle-hardened veteran. Zovko, an Olympic champion himself, has managed teams like Zagreb and Veszprém, reaching the final of the EHF Champions League with the latter in 2002.
When Zovko replaced Eszter Matefi as head coach of Dunaujvaros in October 2015, he immediately let his team know about his handball philosophy:
"I believe that victory is the fruit of hard work and I assure you, we will work really hard."
Dunaujvaros have had ups and downs in international games as well as in the Hungarian league, where they are currently competing in the elite play-off round.
"Our lack of consistency is the result of our lack of European experience, by which I mean international duties are nice to have, but they are also extremely hard," said 25 year-old right back Anna Kovacs, who contributed six goals against Metzingen and is currently third on the list of EHF Cup top scorers.
"The pressure, the atmosphere of an international final is something you can’t get ready for in training. It’s a mental challenge to take the court with the right attitude and stay focused under such pressure. I think our two-goal defeat in the first leg means everything is still open.
"The key to victory will be patience. We must not rush anything – just stay concentrated and give our all."
Team manager Tibor Horvath says he thinks the homey atmosphere at the club helps their players to keep calm under pressure, before explaining that there is another reason their success on the international stage is so important.
"The new sponsor of the Hungarian national league generously awards good international performances, which is important for our future. We have reached the final of a European competition after 13 years and want to make it a step further than in 2003."
TEXT: Bence Martha / cg
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