Dream start for reigning championsArticle
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Budućnost secured an emphatic 29-21 victory over Zvezda Zvenigorod to begin their title defence on a high

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Dream start for reigning champions 

Easier than expected, Women´s EHF Champions League title holders Budućnost opened the defence of their title with a convincing victory against Russian outfit Zvezda Zvenigorod (29:21).Buducnost before the game

A rejuvenated team, who lost most their top players from last season including Bojana Popović, Maja Savić, Katarina Bulatović, Ana Đokić, Sonja Barjaktarović and Ana Radović, played very well and took full advantage of the weaknesses their opponents displayed.

Zvezda was only in the game in the early stages, and when they trailed 6:5 in the 17th minute, but from then on Budućnost dominated the game, and racked up an 11-goal lead by the 44th minute.

After the victory, Budućnost coach Dragan Adžić said: “Many times in my coaching career, especially in the last two years, I have been proud of my players. But today I am particularly proud of them.

“Zvezda Zvenigorod have great players, great coaching staff and excellent results behind them, and for me it's fascinating the way we managed to get them on the level they played against us.

“I believe this victory will give new energy and new faith to our young team for the future to beat stronger teams than us, like, on paper, was case against Zvezda. We have taken a big step toward our goal, to get a place in the Main Round.”

Although the match against Zvezda was the first one since 13 May when Budućnost became EHF Champions League champions, the “Morača” hall was not full – surprisingly, especially as entry was free.

"With all my heart I thank all those who came to support us, and those who were not there probably had their reasons,” added Adžić. “We will continue to be the pride of Montenegro, and think only about our game.

“I hope in the future there will be a full hall, that the fans will recognise the heart, energy and quality of the girls. After all we have done for Montenegro and Montenegrin sport, I think Budućnost deserves to have a full hall in every game in the next 15 years.”

The new captain of Budućnost, German goalkeeper Clara Woltering made a good contribution to the victory with 12 saves.

"I am really happy, we fought for the whole 60 minutes,” she said. “We had a very good game, and showed to everybody that we have lot of energy. I am proud of the team, because everybody on the field and off, was totally focused on the game and everything was perfect.”

But the euphoria of the victory was spoiled by a serious injury to FYR Macedonian right back Elena Gjeorgijevska, who broke her right ankle in the fifth minute.

“Elena suffered a serious injury and she won’t be back in action until at least the end of this year,” said Adžić. “It's a big loss for us. She’s a great potential, this was supposed to be her season. We will wait for her, we believe that she will return in the right way. Meanwhile, other players will have try to compensate for this loss.”

Meanwhile, everybody expected Zvezda Zvenigorod to be stronger. Before the Jelena Zivkovic against Zvezdagame, Dragan Adžić said that the Russians were the favourites to win the match.

"I am not satisfied, we played really badly,” said Elena Dmitrieva, who played for Budućnost for several years, and in 2006 helped them win the Cup Winners’ Cup.

“We have a new team, we still don’t understand each other well enough on the court. The defense was a disaster, and the attack was too. But there is time to fix all that, we have to work hard and it will get better.”

Zvezda made 25 technical mistakes in this game, with some poor play in attack and defence, giving them little hope of victory.

"Budućnost put on a real demonstration how EHF Champions League champions should play, how they should open a new season,” said the coach of Zvezda Zvenigorod Zdravko Zovko.

“Reading newspapers in Montenegro I saw that a false image was created that we were favorites to win the game. Budućnost is a young team, but they are still a quality team with six or seven players who took part in the side that won the EHF Champions League, and with some new high quality and very young newcomers, with great coaching work.

“I didn’t expect my team, which has quite a lot of experience, would start the game with no real desire or motivation to prove their quality, which I think we have.

“Budućnost played well in defence and attack, the game was one-way traffic after five minutes. I think Budućnost are favourites in our group, while the remaining three teams will have to fight for second place."

TEXT: Saša Jončić / br