Countdown, part 5: Rokometni Klub Krim MercatorArticle
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Slovenian champions turn to international reinforcements in search of past glories

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Countdown, part 5: Rokometni Klub Krim Mercator

Sweden, Germany, Brazil, Spain – players from across Europe have come to the Slovenian capital Ljubljana as Rokometni Klub Krim Mercator look to inject some international flair into their game as they aim to recreate past successes.

Twice winners of the Women’s EHF Champions League, RK Krim have improved their squad with international stars like Spanish Olympic bronze medallist Carmen Martin (currently injured), Swedish internationals Linnea Torstensson (most valuable player of the EHF EURO 2010) and Gabriella Kain, and former German internationals Susann Müller and Nina Wörz, or Brazilian pivot Daniela Piedade, arriving from Hypo Niederösterreich.

Making way for the new faces, several players have left including some well-known players such as Dane Kristina Bille, Croat Kristina Franić and Hungarian Ibolya Mehlmann.

On a domestic level the Mercator team is far better than the rest of the league, so the Slovenians are putting all their efforts into the Women’s EHF Champions League. They are competing for the 18th straight time, but the first few games will see them without Martin and their top scorer Andrea Penezić, who was also injured at the Olympic Games.

2006 is the last time they reached the final but lost against Viborg, while the last time Krim won the title was exactly ten seasons ago. But thanks to their reinforced squad hopes are high of at least reaching the semi-finals.

Manager Goran Dujić hopes that his team will appeal to fans across Europe. “Due to the fact that the standard is not very high in our national championship, the Women´s EHF Champions League is our main objective every season," he said.

“For me as a manager it is very important that the team play attractive handball and is exciting to watch on international level, because nowadays you need to do that for sponsors outside your country. You need to be attractive on all fields to be able to prepare marketing packages and products which are able to attract companies to cooperate with you.”

And team captain Liudmila Bodnieva hopes for an improvement on the court, too. “We are well aware that every year there are new clubs that are capable of achieving good results in the European competition. We know that we have a though group but we believe that we have a strong team which can achieve a lot. We would like to go a step higher than in previous seasons,” she said.

Three questions to coach Tone Tiselj: What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the Women’s EHF Champions League?

Tone Tiselj: In this year’s EHF Champions League we would like to be closer to the best teams than we were in the previous seasons. Concerning our group I would say that it will be a tough group therefore our primary goal is to qualify for the next round. What does the participation in the Women’s EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?
Tone Tiselj: This is the highest level of competition possible, and our team has played in this competition for several years which is satisfying and a big honour. We are capable of competing with the best teams every year, and for me as a coach it will be a big challenge to achieve a good result among so many great teams. What teams are your personal favourites to win the Women’s EHF Champions League season – and why?
Tone Tiselj: There are two teams which are, in my opinion, the big favourites to win the Champions League. Mainly Oltchim Valcea – they have managed to collect probably the best team in the history of the EHF Champions League. They have two or even three great if not superb players in each position. The second one is Györi. They hadn’t made any big changes to the team that played the final last year, they just added some great players to the team.

RK Krim Mercator Ljubljana
Qualification for the Women’s EHF Champions League 2012/2013 season: Slovenian champions
Coach: Tone Tiselj, since August 2011.
Newcomers: Linnea Torstensson (FC Mydtjlland), Gabriella Kain (KIF Vejen), Katarina Krpež (HC Metalurg), Daniela Piedade (HYPO NO), Nina
Wörz (Randers HK), Sussan Müller (Randers HK), Carmen Martin (Itxako)
Left the club: Kristina Bille (Larvik), Andrea Šerić (Siofok KC KFT), Gorica Ačimović (HYPO NO), Kristina Franić (Erdi SKFT), Alja Koren (Erdi SKFT) Ibolya Mehlmann (end of career)

Women’s EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2012/2013 season): 18
Winners: 2000/01, 2002/03
Finalists: 1998/99, 2003/04, 2005/06
Quarter-finals: 1995/96, 1996/97, 1997/98, 2004/05, 2006/07
Main Round: 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12
Group Phase/Champions League: 1999/00

Slovenian champions: 1994/95, 1995/96, 1996/97, 1997/98, 1998/99, 1999/00, 2000/01, 2001/02, 2002/03, 2003/04, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12

Slovenian Cup winners: 1992/93, 1993/94, 1994/95, 1995/96, 1996/97, 1998/99, 1999/00, 2000/01, 2001/02, 2002/03, 2003/04, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12

Further information
Find more information about Rokometni Klub Krim Mercator HERE
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TEXT: Björn Pazen