New season, same hopes for FTC
2019/20 was a season to forget for FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria. Still pursuing their dream of qualifying for their ‘home’ DELO EHF FINAL4, the Hungarian side finished bottom of group 1 in the main round.
In the new season, FTC are hopeful to enjoy a better campaign.
Main facts bullet points
- entering their 21st CL season after request for upgrade from EHF European League was granted
- coming off disappointing 2019/20 season, finishing main round in last place of group 1
- Noemi Hafra was chosen best young player of CL for second straight year in 2019/20
- Dutch world champion line player Danick Snelder has left after four seasons, joining league rivals Siófok
- head coach Gabor Elek is teaming up with Györ colleague Gabor Danyi as joined head coaches of Hungarian national women’s team
Main question: how will FTC bounce back from their disappointing last season?
With reaching the DELO EHF FINAL4 as biggest goal once more, FTC are starting ambitiously into the first season of the revamped competition.
Team captain Anikó Kovacsics is aware of the challenges that are coming up for FTC.
“This summer we had to build a new team because a lot of new players have come to us,” says Kovacsics, adding that team preparations started on 6 July.
“Unfortunately, Gréta Márton and Alicia Stolle had an injury so they worked with the physiotherapist first,” she says. “We also had to change our plan of friendly matches as, because of the coronavirus pandemic, we could not play against Brest and Baia Mare.”
FTC will face a serious test in their very first match of the new season as they open their group A campaign against Rostov-Don, the EHF Champions League runners-up from 2018/19.
Under the spotlight: Katrin Klujber
While FTC struggled last season, Katrin Klujber once more underlined her huge potential. The 21-year-old right back scored 84 times in her team’s 12 matches, including three games with more than 10 goals: 12 against Metz and 11 against Podravka in the group matches, and again 12 against Esbjerg in the main mound.
Klujber was named EHF Player of the Month twice in 2019. She is one of the talented youngsters in FTC’s squad. Although most players in her position are taller, Klujber’s outstanding footwork and quickness help her to score from anywhere, anytime.
How do they rate themselves?
“Last year we didn’t have luck with the draw, we got into a difficult group and finally we couldn’t go to quarter-final,” says FTC executive director László Bognár.
“I would like to see our team among the best eight this year again. If we can build our team as we plan and we have a little luck, we will be in the fight for the EHF FINAL4. This is our - the fans', the players' and the leaders' - common dream.”
Bognár believes the squad has become stronger in the off-season.
“But we need time to achieve our best form. On the other hand, the new system of the EHF Champions League holds many challenges, and I think, there are more teams which have a chance to reach the EHF FINAL4 now so it will be a really interesting season.”
Did you know?
Ferencváros will move to Europe’s biggest handball arena, with 20,022 seats, after the final of the Men’s EHF EURO 2022 in Budapest. For years now the club has been playing its EHF Champions League home matches in Érd, some 40 kilometres away.
What the numbers say
Contrary to domestic rivals Györ and Siófok, only four foreigners are currently playing in the green-white jersey of FTC, and they are all newcomers this season: Dutch wing Angela Malestein and German trio Julia Behnke, Emily Bölk and Alicia Stolle.
Many of the Hungarian players are also teammates in the national team, so the core of FTC knows each other very well.
Newcomers and left the club
Newcomers: Alicia Stolle (Thüringer HC), Angela Malestein (SG BBM Bietigheim), Anett Kisfaludy (Érd), Anett Kovács (Békéscsaba), Borbála Ballai (FTC youth), Emily Bölk (Thüringer HC), Julia Behnke (Rostov-Don), Kinga Janurik (Érd).
Left the club: Danick Snelder (Siófok KC), Djurdjina Malovic (Lublin), Dóra Hornyák (DVSC Schaeffler), Emilie Christensen (unknown), Kinga Debreczeni-Klivinyi (DKKA), Kíra Bánfai (DVSC Schaeffler, on loan), Luca Háfra (Alba Fehérvár), Rea Mészáros (Vác), Viktória Lukács (Győri Audi ETO), Zsófi Szemerey (Mosonmagyaróvár).
EHF Champions League:
Participations (including 2020/21 season): 21
Runners-up (1): 2001/02
Semi-finals (2): 1996/97, 2000/01
Quarter-finals (7): 1999/2000, 2002/03, 2003/04, 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19
Main Round (2): 2012/13, 2019/20
Group Matches/Champions League (6): 1994/95, 1995/96, 1997/98, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2013/14
Qualification (2): 2009/10, 2014/15
EHF Cup: Winners: 2005/06; Semi-finals: 2004/05
Cup Winners’ Cup: Winners: 2010/11, 2011/12; Semi-finals: 2006/07, 2014/15
Hungarian league: 12 titles (1966, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2007, 2015)
Hungarian cup: 13 titles