EHF European Cup

Rabotnik write new page in club history

Amina Idrizi / ew

Rabotnik write new page in club history

Eight years after they were founded, HC Eurofarm Rabotnik Bitola are playing their third consecutive season in the Macedonian Super League. And they are doing well: they finished third in the last two seasons and also reached the domestic cup final.

This season, they have had 13 victories and one draw so far to lead the standings and secure a spot in the play-off series, where the Bitola-based team will fight for the championship with Vardar and Metalurg.

Now Rabotnik are also leaving their mark in Europe. In their first season in the competition, they have qualified for the group phase of the Men’s EHF Cup 2018/19.

In Qualification Round 3, they eased past Swiss opponents BSV Bern. After winning the home game by 10 goals (29:19), they defeated Bern also in the away game in Switzerland (30:28), reaching the group phase as one of the youngest squads among all teams.

Setting bigger goals in order to progress

The home city is proud of Rabotnik’s achievements.

“We have the smallest budget among our competitors but we aim for more than leaving a good impression and waving the white flag,” head coach Djordje Cirkovic says. “I think that we have to set bigger goals in order to progress. When the impossible becomes an obligation, this leads to progress.”

Rabotnik will face TSV Hannover-Burgdorf, Grundfos Tatabanya KC and RK Nexe in Group B.

“Stronger leagues, bigger budgets, better rosters, significantly more experience playing in European competitions... All factors except our ambition are on the side of our opponents,” Cirkovic says. “When it comes to favourites, I would like to emphasize my desire and see other teams than German and French playing in the finals.”

Roster open for changes

Cirkovic has previous EHF Cup experience with RK Vojvodina in 2015, so he knows how it is like to compete on the European stage.

Rabotnik signed Montenegrin national team player Mirko Radovic this month to reinforce the right wing position, while he can also properly cover the right back position. And the team reinforcements won’t stop here as the roster is still open for new signings.

“This competition is demanding in both physical and tactical terms,” Cirkovic says. “A team that doesn’t have at least two good defence formations, a good transition game, and the ability to change and control the rhythm of the match has nothing to look for at this level of competition.”

Apart from competing in the EHF Cup, Rabotnik have also set their sights on securing a place in the SEHA League.

“This means: fighting for the first two places in the national championship,” Cirkovic says.

HC Eurofarm Rabotnik Bitola (MKD)

Qualification for the Men’s EHF Cup Group Phase 2018/19: Round 3: 59:47 aggregate win against BSV Bern (CH) 

Newcomers: Nikola Markovski (HC Oroshazi), Blagojce Trajkovski (HC Ohrid), Milan Dzukic (HC Zeleznicar Nis), Filip Kuzmanovski (HC Metalurg), Mirko Radovic (HC Lovcen), Nikola Ivanovic (HC Crvena Zvezda)

Left the club: Zlatko Mojsovski (HC Butel), Stefan Drogriski (HC Pelister), Igor Trajkovski (HC Pelister), Nikola Ivanovic, Yevhen Umovist, Rati Mskvhvilidze, Nikola Ivanovic

Coach: Djordje Cirkovic (since 2018)

Team captain: Goce Ojleski

Opponents in the group matches: TSV Hannover-Burgdorf, Grundfos Tatabanya KC and RK Nexe in the Group B.

Other European Cup records:

Challenge Cup:
Last 16 (1): 2017/18

Macedonian league: 0 titles

Macedonian cup: 0 titles

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