Men’s EHF Cup countdown - part 7: After the hardship of three qualification rounds in the EHF Cup, Futebol Clube do Porto enter the group phase with their ambitions still being high
Porto determined not to let end things too soon
After Futebol Clube do Porto had won the Portuguese domestic championship seven times in a row, it was all different in the 2015/16 season.
S. L. Benfica and ABC/UMinho were better and reached the final, with the latter eventually taking the title.
For Porto it meant that the team, a group phase participant of the VELUX EHF Champions League in 2015/16, now had to start already in Qualification Round 1 for the Men's EHF Cup.
However, after overcoming Georgian side B.S.B. Batumi in Round 1, RD Koper 2013 from Slovenia in Round 2 and Bregenz Handball from Austria in Round 3, they reached their first goal, the group phase, in which they will face Frisch Auf Göppingen, HC Midtjylland and Fraikin BM. Granollers.
Ambitions for the season remain high as the club wants to proceed to the quarter-finals as the group's top-ranked team and claim back the domestic championship's title.
While they may have been weakened by the departure of their top star Gilberto Duarte to Polish EHF Champions League side Orlen Wisla Plock, they signed three new Brazilian players to make up for the loss.
Head coach Ricardo Costa expects strong opponents in the group phase.
“Göppingen is not just the defending champion of the competition. It is a club with a long history in European handball,” he says.
“Midtjylland comes from a leading handball country and we will face the true Scandinavian handball school by a team with mainly young players. For us it is an opportunity to showcase the value of Portuguese handball,” says Costa.
Futebol Clube do Porto (POR)
Newcomers: Victor Iturriza (A.A.Avanca), Leandro Semedo (ISMAI), Nikola Spelic (Maribor), Paulo Candido (Sorriso), Patrick Lemos (S. Bernardo Metodista), Felipe Santaela (Pinheiros), Marko Matic (Metalurg)
Left the club: Gilberto Duarte (Wisla Plock), Edgar Landim (SC Horta), Nuno Gonçalves (Istres Provence Handball), Nuno Roque (CF Os Belenenses), Felisberto Landim (SC Horta), Michal Kasal (Fraikin BM Granollers).
Team captain: Ricardo Moreira
Group Phase: 2013/2014, 2015/16
Qualification: 2004/05, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13, 2014/15
Group Phase: 2014/2015
Last 16: 1998/99, 2010/11, 2011/12
EHF Cup Winners’ Cup
Quarter-final: 2000/01, 2001/02
Portuguese champions: 1954, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Portuguese cup winners: 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1994, 2006, 2007
TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
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