All eyes on the Last 16Article
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VELUX EHF Champions League countdown, part 6: HCM Constanta (ROU)

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All eyes on the Last 16

Six times HCM Constanta have become Romanian champions, and last season the team from the Black Sea took the double (including Romanian cup) for the first time ever.

In the VELUX EHF Champions League the team missed the Last 16 very closely after a long and intense duel with their opponents from St. Petersburg and Sarajevo last season.

Now Constanta is starting their next attempt to reach the knock-out stage and to defend both titles on home ground.

Three coach system

Like the VELUX EHF Champions League newcomers Kobenhavn the Romanians can count on three coaches: Since the middle of last season Ion Craciun is the new head coach as the successor of Jovica Cvetcovic.

His assistants are Eden Hairi and former Romanian goalkeeping legend Alexandru Buligan, who returned from Spain last summer.

Three new players

They can count on three new players including Romanian top star Valentin Ghionea, three players left – and all went abroad like Timuzsin Schuch who signed in Veszprem or Daniel Muresan, who plays for Sporting Lisboa now.

Constanta can count on a huge and balanced squad – which they will need to proceed to the Last 16.

Matches played in Buzau

In the Group Phase Constanta will face German champions HSV Hamburg as the great group favourites, and Plock, Koper, St. Petersburg and Skopje.

Like two years ago Constanta will play their home matches in the Romeo Iamandi Sports Hall in the town of Buzau, but hope for their frenetic spectators to travel and cheer for their team.

Optimistic Manager

Manager Ali Nurhan is absolutely highlighted before the start of their sixth season in the VELUX EHF Champions League: "Having a close look at our Group C, it looks like a feasible task. We have only one favourite for the first place in the group, and that is Hamburg.

The rest of the teams are on an equally strong level as we are. But our experience that we have gained so far in the VELUX EHF Champions League gives us the opportunity to hope for second or at least third place.

If we would carry out our matches in our home town Constanta this year, I can say for sure that we would finish on second place."

Captain concurs

Team captain Laurentiu Toma agrees on the manager’s objectives: "In this VELUX EHF Men’s Champions League 2011/12 season we’ll work hard to perform well and pass the Group Phase. This is our main objective and we will do our best to win each match because every game is very important for us."

Three questions to the coach Ion Craciun What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the VELUX EHF Champions League - concerning your objectives and your group opponents?

Ion Craciun: This season we want to qualify for later phases of VELUX EHF Men’s Champions League. Therefore it is crucial and our goal to achieve a favourable position in the Group Phase. What does the participation in the VELUX EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?

Ion Craciun: Competing in the highest European league enables the team to put on experience from spectacular matches, it keeps us in direct contact with high level handball. This is also important for our club as a whole as we gain international appreciation and get more handball fans. What teams are your personal favourites to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 and for winning the title this season – and why?

Ion Craciun: In my opinion the four best teams are the top teams from Spain and Germany, FC Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, THW Kiel and HSV Hamburg. These exceptional teams have so much experience from earlier VELUX EHF Champions League seasons. Also they are good examples of great management as they have very stable and good financial funding.

Club facts – HCM Constanta (ROU)

Newcomers: Alexandru Simicu (CSU Politehnica Municipal Timisoara), Doru Calin Hagiu (CS Universitatea Cluj), Valentin Marian Ghionea (CS Universitatea Cluj)
Left the club: Timuzsin Schuch (MKB Veszprem/HUN), Daniel Cristian Muresan (Sporting Lisboa/POR), Silviu Baiceanu (Rishon LeZion/ISR)
Coaches: Ion Craciun (since December 2010), Alexandru Buligan (since June 2010), Eden Hairi (since June 2006)

Qualification for the 2011/2012 VELUX EHF Champions League season: Romanian Champions

VELUX EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2011/2012 season): 6
Last 16 (1): 2009/2010
Group Phase (4): 2004/2005, 2006/2007, 2007/2008, 2010/2011

Cup Winners Cup records:
Semi-finalist: 2005/2006
Quarterfinalist (2): 2006/2007, 2008/2009
Round 4: 2002/2003

Challenge Cup records:
Semi-finalist: 2003/2004
Round 4: 2001/2002

Romanian champions: 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
Romanian Cup winners: 2004, 2006, 2011
Romanian Super Cup winners: 2008 and 2011

Further information

Find more information on HCM Constanta HERE.

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TEXT: Björn Pazen