CSKA eager for successful debut
Only one year after the club was founded, CSKA are already enjoying their first European season - at the highest level.
Despite lack of experience as a team, the young Russian club have a lot of quality in their squad, which allows them to set ambitious goals in their maiden DELO EHF Champions League campaign.
- it will be the Russian club’s debut season in a European club competition
- the Moscow-based club was founded just a year ago, in 2019
- finished third in their maiden Russian league campaign, behind Rostov-Don and Lada
- coached by Denmark’s Jan Leslie, who also worked at Rostov in the past (2014-16)
- seven players left while six others, including 2016 Olympic champions Anna Sedoykina and Marina Sudakova, have joined CSKA in summer
Most important question: How far can the Russian debutant go?
Founded in 2019, CSKA declared ambitious plans from the very beginning. In their maiden campaign in the Russian league, they finished third, but got an upgrade into the DELO EHF Champions League, which will be their European debut.
However, the Moscow-based side do not want to be a typical humble debutant as their squad allows them to aim high.
Now they look even stronger than in the previous season, as the club managed to sign Russian national team players Anna Sedoykina and Marina Sudakova, young prodigy Elena Mikhaylichenko as well as the Danish defensive specialist Kathrine Heindahl.
On paper, CSKA’s roster looks powerful, still as a team they lack international experience, so it will be very interesting to see how far they can go.
Under the spotlight: Daria Dmitrieva
The Russian national team captain had many lucrative offers, but she opted to join CSKA just after the foundation of the club in summer 2019.
At the newly-created Moscow club, the centre back also got the captaincy, yet had to miss the whole previous season due to a severe injury. But the 25-year-old is now fit and hungry for the game, and she is expected to lead the team by example.
How they rate themselves
With the quality and experience of their players, CSKA are looking for a successful debut.
“The EHF FINAL4 is the biggest dream for us in the debut season. Of course, this is a difficult task, but we set only high goals,” CSKA club manager Eduard Akopyan said.
However, he realises that the maiden campaign in the DELO EHF Champions League will be quite challenging.
“CSKA’s main goal in the first season is receiving an experience of high-level games. Our players have this experience, but our club does not. We need to take this step and grow.”
Did you know?
Danish head coach Jan Leslie, who joined CSKA in 2019, is in his second spell in Russia. Between 2014 and 2016 he coached domestic rivals Rostov-Don and led them to the national league title in 2015.
What the numbers say
CSKA have as many as five 2016 Olympic champions in the team: players Daria Dmitrieva, Anna Sedoykina, Marina Sudakova and Ekaterina Ilyina, as well as assistant coach Olga Akopyan.
Newcomers and left the club
Newcomers: Anna Sedoykina (Rostov-Don), Marina Sudakova (Rostov-Don), Elena Mikhaylichenko (Handball Club Lada), Eva Demidovich (Handball Club Lada), Anastasia Illarionova (Zvezda Zvenigorod), Kathrine Heindahl (Odense Handbold)
Left the club: Victoria Zhilinskayte (Kuban), Anna Bogdasheva (BNTU-BelAZ Minsk Region), Polina Kaplina (Zvezda Zvenigorod), Lada Samoylenko (Zvezda Zvenigorod), Kseniia Trukhina (Kuban Krasnodar), Valentina Goncharova, Ekaterina Lubyanaya
EHF Champions League:
Participations (including 2020/21 season): 1
Russian league: -
Russian cup: -