Constanta return to CLArticle
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The Romanian team are back after ups and downs in the last two seasons.

Constanta return to CL

Two years ago, EHF turned a blind eye. Though the playing court, “Sala Sporturilor“, did not meet the EHF Champions League standards, HCM Constanta were allowed to play their home games against teams such as the THW Kiel in their home arena by the Black Sea. As the Romanian champions return to the Champions League, the club also had to respect the regulations and play their five upcoming home matches 200 kilometres away in Buzau.

“Our management requested to stay, but the EHF decision was final in the matter,” says HCM President Ali Nurhan. “Our supporters have to travel with us to Buzau .”

However, this was only the first of the difficulties Constanta had to face. The first game of the new season was a convincing 36:23 victory in Odorhei and the celebrating players could lift the Transfer-Cup in the air. Nikola Manojlovic, the former Göppingen player, was the new hope of the team. However, the Serbian back player had a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave for a certain fee once a Bundesliga team intended to sign him – according to Romanian media reports. And as it happened, Rhein-Neckar Löwen was knocking on the door of Constanta for the player. The Romanian team had to find comfort in the transfer fee around €40,000.

The return of the club to the Champions League is a great satisfaction, anyway. In autumn 2007, dark clouds appeared above the Romanian flagship club that won four titles in a row. The team sank to the eighth place of the league table. This cost the job of two coaches, but finally the handball legend Vasile Stinga led HCM back among the top teams and finished the championship second.

Last season it was the former Partizan Belgrade and Pick Szeged coach, Zoran Kurtes, to take the team back on the top in front of teams such as Resita, Dinamo and Steaua Bucharest. In the Cup Winners’ Cup the last stop was the later winning Valladolid for Constanta in the quarterfinals.

Even without Nikola Manojlovic, the team have three Serbian players. The Czech line player, Martin Prachar, joined from Resita. The other line player, Hungarian Timuzsin Schuch, belongs to the Veszprém school of handball.

The rest of the team are Romanian players with nine of them having international experience with the National Team – former Göppingen player, Silviu Bauceanu among them. However, Constanta are not among the biggest favourites in the CL group with Montpellier, Chekhov, Valladolid and Szeged…

TEXT: Jan Kirschner