Countdown, part 14: U Jolidon ClujArticle
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Runners-up in the Romanian League, U Jolidon Cluj will compete in the Group Matches of the Women’s EHF Champions League for the first time, and are hoping to secure some points against top opponents.

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Countdown, part 14: U Jolidon Cluj

When U Jolidon Cluj reached the Group Phase, it was the biggest surprise in all the qualification tournaments and play-offs for the Women’s EHF Champions League. In their third consecutive attempt, the Romanian runners-up qualified for the last 16 teams despite having had the toughest of all opponents.

To beat strengthened Turkish champion Muratpasa was a first sign of their power, but in the final against Russian runners-up Rostov they were the clear underdogs despite home advantage, as Rostov had eliminated big favourites Zaječar from Serbia in the second semi-final.

In a thrilling match, Cluj destroyed Rostov’s hopes, and reached the Group Matches for the first time in history. Jolidon have been runners-up three times in a row in the Romanian League, second to the 'dream team' of Oltchim Vâlcea.

The university team from Transylvania – who missed out on qualification against Metalurg and Viborg in the previous two years - mostly consists of Romanian players but have signed some experienced stars to add to their well-rehearsed squad. The top newcomer is Carmen Florentina Cartas (CSM Cetate Devatrans Deva), who was top scorer in the qualification tournament.

In the Group Matches the Romanians have to face tough opponents like the favourites from Györ (HUN), the semi-finalists Krim (SLO) and the experienced Podravka from Croatia.

But despite those tough clashes hopes of success are high, says managing director Cosmin Salajan: “To reach the Group Matches makes us really proud and happy, as now we can compete with some of the best teams in Europe. We are among the top 16 teams in Europe and we hope to prove our value.”

And captain Mihaela Tivadar is also looking forward to playing against the best players in the world, adding: “It was a dream for our team, and the fact that we are here will make us to play without pressure to prove our value. Any point that we will bring from this group will be golden for us.”

Three questions to coach Gheorghe Covaciu: What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the Women’s EHF Champions League?
Gheorghe Covaciu: Our main objective was to qualify for the Group Matches, and now we are here we face teams with real quality. We will compete in this stage for the first time ever and we are proud to face an opponent like favourite Györ. Of course we will do our best to win some points, we know it will be very difficult but we will fight in every game. What does participating in the Women’s EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?
Gheorghe Covaciu: From a coaching point of view participating in the Champions League is a definite pinnacle of your career. The Champions League is alongside EHF EURO, World Championships and Olympics in gathering the best players and coaches. We are glad that we got here. What teams are your personal favourites to win the Women’s EHF Champions League season – and why?
Gheorghe Covaciu: Oltchim are of course my first favourite because they are from Romania, but also Győr, Krim, Larvik and Volgograd have a chance.

U Jolidon Cluj (ROU)
Qualification for the Women’s EHF Champions League 2012/13 season: Winners of Qualification Tournament 3, Romanian runners-up
Newcomers: Carmen Florentina Cartas (CSM Cetate Devatrans Deva), Ionica Munteanu (SCM Craiova), Alexandra Lup (LPS Bistrita), Abigail Valean (LPS Bistrita)
Left the club: Ionica Munteanu (SCM Craiova), Laura Oltean (HCM Baia Mare), Oana Bondar (HCM Baia Mare), Adela Biliga Radu (Stiinta Bucuresti)
Coach: Gheorghe Covaciu, since 2005

Women’s EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2012/13 season):
Qualification: 2011/12

Other EC records:
Challenge Cup:

Cup Winners’ Cup:
Last 16: 2011/12

Romanian champions: - (runners-up 2010, 2011, 2012)

Further information
Find more information about U Jolidon Cluj HERE
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TEXT: Björn Pazen / br