Huge changes, high hopesArticle
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EHF Women’s Champions League countdown, part 5: CS Oltchim Rm. Vâlcea (ROU)

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Huge changes, high hopes

In 2010 they were finalists of the EHF Women’s Champions League, but lost to Viborg HK (DEN), so last season it was their minimum goal to reach the semi-finals again.

Three coaches

But even three coaches – Peter Kovács, Anja Andersen and in the end Radu Voina – could not fulfil those dreams, as Oltchim Vâlcea was eliminated in the Main Round.

In the meantime even the future of the club was on the edge, but when the Oltchim company remained as main and name sponsor, the future was secured.

Seven left, five came

Now the 17 times Romanian champions start with high hopes of reaching the final again, even as they have to face strong opponents in the Group Phase and coach Voina has to implement several new players.

Seven players left, including tall back court shooter Anastasiia Pidpalova (now playing for Vâlcea’s Group Phase opponents from Volgograd) and Steluta Luca, who is Voina’s new assistant coach now.

Five new players from four countries arrived at Ramnicu Vâlcea.

Strong reinforcements

New goalkeeper is Sanela Knezovic arriving from last year’s CL semi-finalist Buducnost together with her team-mate Marija Jovanovic.

Pivot Ekaterina Vetkova, world champion with Russia, was transferred from former EHF Champions League winners Zvezda Zvenigorod.

Also Romanian international Aurelia Bradeanu, coming from Györ, should strengthen the back court.

Luca warns of group opponents

For Oltchim Valcea’s vice-president Nicolae Luca – new president is Petre Berbecaru – it will be the first tough challenge to stand against their opponents in the Group Stage:

"We hope to be able to take revenge against Spanish champions Itxako, who beat us twice last season in the decisive matches of the Main Round.

Also Russian champions Dinamo Volgograd are a very good team with experienced players including several world champions. And aside we have to be aware of the qualificants Buxtehude.

Looking on those opponents we expect tough matches even in the first stage, but we will try to play our game and win.

Every point is important to reach our first goal, to proceed to the Main Round."

For the supporters

The hopes of team captain Oana Manea even go further on: "Our team is in reconstruction, as seven girls left the club and five new players came. We hope to integrate them as soon as possible.

And when the EHF Women’s Champions League starts, we hope to be in maximum possible shape. Especially for our supporters we will try to be one of the best teams this season.

Hopefully we can repeat our performance from 2010, when we reached the final."

Neagu injured

But in the Group Stage Vâlcea have to miss one highly important key figure: World Handball Player of the Year 2010, Cristina Neagu is out of competition after a shoulder surgery.

Three questions to coach Radu Voina What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the Women’s EHF Champions League – concerning your objectives and your group opponents?

Radu Voina: We try to reach the final and maybe to win it. We will play against very strong teams in the Group Stage, who might have the same objective.

But we are trying to do our best day by day to become a united and stronger team. What does the participation in the Women’s EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?

Radu Voina: The EHF Women’s Champions League represents the highest level of competition in women’s handball.

We are honoured to participate and we try to offer an exciting show to our spectators. What teams are your personal favourites for winning the title this season – and why?

Radu Voina: My team, because I think this season we can reach something, as the first impressions are very good.

Also Györ, a team which is stronger this season with new good players.

Larvik, the defending champions, and some other teams might be able to become the big surprise thanks to their experienced player transfers.

Club facts – C.S. Oltchim Rm. Vâlcea (ROU)

Newcomers: Oana Chirila (S.D. Itxako/ESP), Aurelia Bradeanu (Györi Audi ETO/HUN), Sanela Knezovic (ZRK Buducnost/MNE), Ekaterina Vetkova (Zvezda Zvenigorod/RUS), Marija Jovanovic (ZRK Buducnost/MNE)

Left the club: Steluta Luca (end of career), Tereza Pislaru (RK Zajecar/SRB), Valeria Bese (HC Zalau), Clara Vadineanu (U Jolidon Cluj Napoca), Adriana Tacalie (ZRK Buducnost/MNE), Anstasiia Pidpalova (Dinamo Volgograd/RUS), Gabriella Szücs (DVSC Korvex Debrecen/HUN)

Coach: Radu Voina, since March 2011

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

EHF Women’s Champions League records:
Participations (including 2011/2012 season): 12
Finalist: 2009/10
Semi-finalist: 2008/09
Last 32: 1999/00
Main Round: 2007/08, 2010/11
Group Phase/Champions League: 1995/96, 1996/97, 1997/98, 1998/99, 2000/01
Qualification: 2002/03

Other EC records:
Cup Winners Cup: Winner 2006/07, Finalist 2001/02

Romanian champion: 17 times (1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
Romanian Cup winner: 14 times (1984, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2011)
Romanian Super Cup winner:

Further information

Find more information on Oltchim Rm. Vâlcea HERE.

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TEXT: Björn Pazen