Excitement for Braila as they break new ground
Having taken the long and Scandinavian-influenced route, HC Dunarea Braila have reached the group phase of a European competition for the first time.
The Romanian club are no strangers to the business end of a European Cup, having reached the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup in their first European season back in 2007/08 but the European League is a whole new ball game.
- won two qualification rounds to qualify for the group phase
- their first qualification in Europe’s second tier, having been knocked out in qualification by Byasen Trondheim twice in the past two seasons
- will be considered outsiders in one of the toughest groups in the European League
- on-court leaders include international veterans Aneta Udristioiu and Gabriella Ibolya Szűcs
The burning question – Can they do more than make up the numbers
The club’s objective for this season was to reach the group phase, now that they have achieved it, how much further are they likely to go?
With their company in group D, progression is unlikely but not impossible. Siófok, Kuban and Fleury Loiret will all fancy themselves capable of reaching the quarter-finals but none are currently standout favourites, leaving Braila with a chance to spring a surprise or two and their journey so far suggests that is within their power.
Journey to the group phase
Dunarea Braila had the good fortune to play both of their qualification rounds as double-headers at home but it did not make their route to this stage a walk in the park.
The European adventure almost ended as soon as it began in round 2 with a nervy clash against Tertnes Bergen. With a two-goal win in the first leg and a half-time lead, all looked rosy, before a late charge from the Norwegian club left them with an advantage on away goals with just 13 seconds left. Braila stormed down the other end and Bojana Milic saved the day with a buzzer-beating goal.
More Scandinavian opposition awaited in round 3, this time Viborg coming to town. Another tough pair of games followed but the Romanian side dealt with it better, claiming a 58:52 aggregate win.
The reliable right wing returned to Braila in 2019, following a spell with CSM Bucuresti and her experience in Europe’s top flight was clear to see as she scored 18 goals in the two games against Viborg in qualification round 3.
A solid shooter from the wing and well-able to take on defenders in the back court, Udristioiu has been a regular in the Romanian national team since 2014 and her pedigree will be vital for her team as they enter unchartered waters.
Tamires Morena Lima
With over 100 appearances for Brazil and a varied club career, it is hard to believe Tamires Morena Lima is still just 26.
The line player has been in Europe since 2015 and is well-travelled, playing for the likes of Györ and Larvik before joining Braila, her sixth European club, in 2019. This is the first time she is playing a second season with a European club, suggesting she may finally have found a good fit.
Arrivals and departures
Arrivals: Maryia Kanaval ( Bntu-Belaz Minsk), Jovana Sazdovska (HC Thüringen), Ljublica Nenezic (CS Gloria Bistrita 2018), Mădălina Zamfirescu (SCM Ramnicu Valcea), Sanja Premovic (Iuventa Michalovce)
Departures: Gabriela Dobre (CS Rapid Bucuresti), Marina Razum (Lublin), Claudia Constantinescu (CS Rapid Bucuresti), Natasha Krnic (Handbal Erice)
Last 16 (2): 2010/11, 2014/15
Semi-final (1): 2007/08
National league: -
National cup: -