New port for Champions League fleetArticle
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COUNTDOWN: VELUX EHF Champions League countdwon, part 21: FC Porto Vitalis

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New port for Champions League fleet

It was a short, but successful stay of David Davis in Portugal: Also thanks to the help of the Spanish international and former Champions League winner, the 18 times Portuguese champions made it to the Group Stage for the first time since the 1999/2000 season.

After a double strike against Elverum (Norway) and Romanian side Constanta in the final within 24 hours, Porto – host of the tournament – ended an unlucky series of failing five times in qualification for the VELUX EHF Champions League

Now the handball section of the famous football club will face big names in the Group Phase; Kiel, Kielce, Plock, Dunkerque and Kolding-Kobenhavn.

Of course Porto will play the underdog role in this group, but aside short-term transfer David Davis, who quit his career after the qualification they signed a big name from Spain: Alvaro Ferrer from Atlético Madrid.

After winning the Portuguese championship for five straight times FC Porto is eager to break the all-time domestic record in raising their sixth consecutive trophy in the current season. Aside they aim for winning the domestic cup.

And on international ground FC Porto have already made history: Since 12 years they are the first Portuguese team to qualify for the Group Stage – which had been one of their main season goals.

And now they want to be a successful representative of their handball nation – and maybe surprise some teams in their group to finally have the chance to pass this stage, as FC Porto Vice-President Adelino Caldeira says: “The draw defined a very strong group for FC Porto. As debutant in the VELUX EHF Champions League, and against such strong opponents, we aspire to make a surprise and qualify for the Last16.

"It will be a big pleasure for all at FC Porto and in Portuguese handball to welcome some of the best teams and handball players in the world.”

Like the Vice-President, team captain Ricardo Moreira is looking forward the big challenge: “I just hope this season will be the first of many years of FC Porto in Champions League. We play in a difficult group, two of our five opponents were part of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 last season. So we know it’s a hard group.”

Three questions to coach Ljubomir Obradović:

What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the VELUX EHF Champions League - concerning your objectives and your group opponents?

Ljubomir Obradović: Our goal is to get as far as we can. Our first goal was to assure to reach the Group Phase. We want to take the opportunity of playing Champions League to become more competitive.

What does the participation in the VELUX EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?

Ljubomir Obradović: Being here is a pride for our club. We have football and hockey in the respective Champions Leagues, now so are we. It’s an opportunity to grow, when you are in the European elite, among the best of the best.

What teams are your personal favourites to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 and for winning the title this season – and why?

Ljubomir Obradović: FC Barcelona,Vive Targi Kielce, KIF Kolding Kobenhavn, PSG and Hamburg. I believe they are best prepared teams.

FC PortoVitalis (POR)

Qualification for the 2013/14 VELUX EHF Champions League season: Winners of the qualification tournament 4, Portuguese champion

Coach: Ljubomir Obradović, since 2009/10

Newcomers: Vasco Santos (ISMAI), Álvaro Ferrer (Atlético Madrid), João Moniz (Belenenses), Miguel Sarmento (ABC) and Mick Schubert (Ajax Kobenhavn)

Left the club: João Ramos (Hurry Up/NED), Filipe Mota (Gyor/HUN), Sérgio Rola (Madeira SAD) and Elias Nogueira (ISMAI)
VELUX EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2013/14 season): 7
Last 16 (1): 1999/2000
Qualification (5): 2004/05, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13

Other EC records:
Cup Winners’ Cup: Quarter-finals 2000/01, 2001/02

Portuguese league: 17 titles (1954, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013) 
Portuguese Cup winners: 7 times

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br