Making one step forwardArticle
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Women’s EHF Champions League countdown, part 6: HC Podravka Vegeta (CRO)

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Making one step forward

It is some years ago, when Podravka was one of the main contenders for winning the title in the EHF Women’s Champions League.

In 1995 the Croatian record champions reached the final for the first time, one year later the team raised the trophy of this competition for the only time.

Higher goals this season

Since then three finals in European Cups were the highlights for the team from the city of Koprivnica, which participates in the EHF Women’s Champions League for the 18th time.

In the last years most often the Group Stage was their final destination. This season it is the objective of Podravka to reach the Main Round despite their strong opponents, or at minimum to go on in the Cup Winner’s Cup as third ranked team after the first stage.

Group of title winners

In their group they will have to face three former winners of the EHF Champions League with in total six crowns: Defending champions Larvik (1 title), their Slovenian neighbors from Ljubljana (2) and Viborg from Denmark (3), the winner of the Qualification Tournament.

As Podravka is without obvious concurrence in their domestic league – marked by the series of 18 championship titles and 17 cups, the EHF Champions League is a highly important competition for the Croats.

Two players replaced

Their squad changed only a little, but two important players left the club: Svitlana Pasicnik (now in Zvezda, Russia) and Maja Zebic (Itxako, Spain).

But Croatian international Lidija Horvat (returning from Metz in France) and Serbian Sanja Damnjanovic (Zacejar, the only Non-Croat player in this season’s squad) shall replace those players.

Even as several Croatian national team players – mostly coming from Podravka – now play abroad, the Koprivnica team is still the base for the national team.

Palcic wants top three in Group Matches

Club director Bozica Palcic is confident for the upcoming season and expects great matches in Koprivnica: "This year our group will be very interesting with an uncertain final ranking.

From our point of view, our group is also very attractive to media, because we will play with the current champions Larvik.

Last year, we already played in one group with RK Krim and we got to know each other well.

Even the team coming through qualification will not be an easy opponent, as it is none other than Viborg HK.

Our aim is to remain in European competitions, which means that we need to take one of the top three positions in the group.

Certainly, that will not be easy for us, because all teams in our group are very strong, but we are not afraid of any opponent and we want to make a step forward compared to last year."

Captain confirms season goal

Team captain Miranda Tatari promises a great fight to their fans: "Every group in the EHF Women’s Champions League is hard.

The goal of each team is to proceed to the Main Round, and we would like to reach at least third place in our group.

We will fight until the end and maybe we can surprise and reach the Main Round.

This EHF Champions League season is very important for our club and we will do everything in our power to achieve our goals."

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

Neven Hrupec: Our group is very strong. Every match in our group will be difficult and very interesting. What does the participation in the EHF Women’s Champions League mean to you and your club?

Neven Hrupec: We are very happy to be part of the EHF Champions League. I think Podravka Vegeta is stronger than last year, and we do not have to fear anyone, as we want to make a step forward compared to last year. What teams are your personal favourites for winning the title this season – and why?

Neven Hrupec: My favourites are in the order of chances: Györ, Valcea, Budućnost, Larvik and Itaxo. All those teams have many good players.

Club facts – HC Podravka Vegeta (CRO)

Newcomers: Sanja Damnjanovic (HC Zajecar/SRB), Lidija Horvat (HC Metz/FRA)

Left the club: Svitlana Pasicnik (Zvezda Zvenigorod/RUS), Maja Zebic (Grupo Asfi Itxako Navarra/ESP), Sandra Nikcevic (Kofem SC/HUN)

Coach: Neven Hrupec, since 2010

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

EHF Women’s Champions League records:
Participations (including 2011/2012 season): 18
Winner: 1995/96
Finalist: 1994/95
Semi-finalist: 1997/98
Quarter-final: 1996/97
Main Round: 2000/01, 2001/02, 2008/09
Group Phase/Champions League: 1993/94, 1998/99, 1999/00, 2002/03, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2009/10, 2010/11
Qualification: 2003/04, 2005/06

Other EC records:
Cup Winners Cup Finalist: 2004/05, semi-finalist: 2007/08
EHF Cup Finalist 2000/01, 2005/06

Croatian champion: 18 times
Croatian Cup winner: 17 times

Further information

Find more information on HC Podravka Vegeta HERE.

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TEXT: Björn Pazen