The final is the minimumArticle
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EHF Women’s Champions League countdown, part 3: Győri Audi ETO KC (HUN).

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The final is the minimum

They are the predicted favourites again, signed world class players, and are hoping to put an end to their "curse of the final".

Hungarian champions Győri Audi ETO KC seem to be well-prepared for the upcoming EHF Women’s Champions League season.

Signed top scorer

After their last season’s transfer coup by signing Norwegian goalkeeper Katrine Lunde Haraldsen, Györ transferred another player from the European and Olympic champions in last season’s EHF Champions League top scorer Heidi Löke, pivot of Larvik HK, the defending champions in this competition.

Two more new star players

Furthermore Serbian top star Andrea Lekic from Krim (SLO) and Jovanka Radicevic from Buducnost (MNE) arrived. This means that Györ improved their already strong squad furthermore.

The final is the goal

Last season they surprisingly failed in the semi-finals against Itxako, this season their clear objective is nothing less than reaching the final.

Györ is the only club to reach the semi-finals of the EHF Women’s Champions League for five straight times since 2007. But the Hungarians reached the finals only one time, in 2009, when they closely missed their first international title against Viborg HK (DEN).

The "curse of the final"

Since 1999 Györ have been participating in total six finals of the European Cup – in all competitions – but never won any title, a sequence they would now like to end.

Squad of top players

Coach Csaba Konkoly can count on one of the best goalkeeper couples in the world of club handball with Lunde Haraldsen and Hungarian Katalin Palinger.

Former World Handball Player of the Year Anita Görbicz is their key player in attack. Löke will replace former pivot Simona Spiridon who left to Russia. Aurelia Bradeanu transferred to Vâlcea.

Due to this squad Györ is not only going to continue their series as Hungarian champions and cup winners, but aim high in the EHF Women’s Champions League, where they have to face Metz, Hypo and a qualificant in the Group Stage.

Manager expects reaching the final

The expectations of club manager Lajos Kiss are high: "It was a very big deal that we reached the semi-finals in the EHF Women’s Champions League in the last five years consequently.

This season we want more, we have to be in the final. We do not want to say more for now, first we will have to reach this goal."

Görbicz demands focus

Playmaker Anita Görbicz shares those hopes, but knows that it will be a tough challenge: "It is never easy to play an EHF Champions League match, because all the opponents are incredibly strong. We also have a lot of national league matches, so it is hard to give the best all the time.

It is the biggest honour for a player if you can say ‘I won the EHF Champions League’, but one of my new team mates, Heidi Löke, did it.

We have to be strong, and we must fight until the last second, than we can fulfil our dreams."

And maybe they can also fulfil the dream of the newly elected club president Ernő Kelecsényi to raise a trophy in the first season of his three year term of office.

Three questions to coach Csaba Konkoly What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the Champions League – concerning your objectives and your group opponents?

Csaba Konkoly: We want to play as good as we did in last season’s Group Phase. Our aim is clear: the minimum for us is to reach the final this year.

About our group: Hypo are strong opponents with their Brazilian players, and we also know that Metz play an impressive handball. Still we want to win all our matches if possible. What does the participation in the EHF Women’s Champions League mean to you and your club?

Csaba Konkoly: This is the highest quality of women’s handball. The best teams are playing in this competition, it is always a pleasure to play an EHF Champions League match.

Our fans also love those games, because they can see high quality every time. What teams are your personal favourites to for winning the title this season – and why?

Csaba Konkoly: Larvik as title defenders have a big chance to reach the final again, as we know that Norwegian handball is very strong. The Romanians from Vâlcea have the chance to win the title every year, they are very strong too, same as last season’s finalist Itxako.

Counting our team among those favourites, I have to say that the winner will be one of those four teams.

Club facts - Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN)

Newcomers: Andrea Lekic (Krim Ljubljana/SLO), Heidi Loke (Larvik HK/NOR), Jovanka Radicevic (Budocnost Podgorica/MNE)

Left the club: Aurelia Bradeanu (Oltchim Valcea/ROU), Szabina Mayer (Veszprem Barabas/HUN), Simona Spiridon (Zvezda Zvenigorod/RUS), Katarina Mravikova (end of career), Patrícia Szölösi (Denmark), Orsolya Szegedi (Váci NKSE)

Coach: Csaba Konkoly, since 2007

Qualification for the 2011/2012 EHF Women’s Champions League season: Hungarian champions

EHF Women’s Champions League records:
Participations (including 2011/2012 season): 9
Finalist: 2008/09
Semi-finalist: 2006/07, 2007/08, 2009/10, 2010/11
Group Phase: 2000/01, 2005/06
Qualification: 2004/05

Other EC records:
Cup Winners Cup: Finalist 2005/06, Semi-finalist 2002/03
EHF Cup: Finalist 1998/99, 2001/02, 2003/04, 2004/05

Hungarian champion: 8 times
Hungarian Cup winner: 7 times

Further information

Find more information on Györi Audi ETO KC HERE.

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TEXT: Björn Pazen