Confidence in squad’s mix of experience and young talentArticle
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Women’s EHF Champions league countdown, part 4: Russian champions Dinamo-Sinara aim to become a strong force in women’s handball this season.

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Confidence in squad’s mix of experience and young talent

After a one-year absence from the Women’s EHF Champions League, Russian champions Dinamo-Sinara are back with the intention of matching their previous performances in the competition and earning a reputation as a force in women’s handball.

Dinamo have been busy during the off-season, adding a number of strong talents to their roster and making their squad the biggest in the Women’s EHF Champions League competition in the process. The loss of international players such as Brazilian Mayssa Raquel De Pessoa and French Katty Piejos has been compensated for with the transfer of Croatian Anita Gace and the first ever Tunisian to play professionally in Russia, Asma El Ghaoui.

Though the additional players strengthen the club’s roster, the squad is still mainly comprised of players that have come through Dinamo’s highly successful youth development program.

Manager Eduard Akopian has a clear idea of the club’s goals: “We have a young, strong team with great expectations ahead of the Champions League and our national championship. Our main aim is to gain a reputation and make our opponents realise we are a dangerous team.”

Team captain Anna Kochetova is optimistic despite the fact that the team has been hit hard by injuries before the EHF Champions League has even begun, attributing her confidence to the structure of the squad.

“We have a great mix of experienced and young players, as well as a really positive atmosphere in our team. I believe the combination of our diverse squad with the experience of our coaches will help us achieve results,” said Kochetova.

The Volgograd-based club topped the Russian Women’s Super League for the sixth consecutive time last season. Along with their goals to succeed in the international competition, the team aim to defend their domestic title this year.

The Russian champions will not face any of the teams widely considered main contenders for the FINAL4 in the group phase, having been drawn in a group with Krim, Hypo Niederösterreich and Leipzig.

Three questions to coach Victor Riabych:

Concerning your objectives and your group opponents, what are your expectations for the upcoming season of the Women’s EHF Champions League?

Victor Riabych: I think all teams in our group are equal. Those that perform the best under pressure and are more aggressive in the crucial matches will proceed to the main round.

What does participation in the Women’s EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?

Victor Riabych: It is a question of pride and prestige for our team and for the whole of Russia. We will do our best to surprise our opponents.

What teams are your personal favourites to reach the FINAL4 tournament of the Women’s EHF Champions League season – and why?

Victor Riabych: Györi ETO KC, Buducnost and WHC Vardar SCBT. Those teams have really good players and big financial backing.

Qualification for the Women’s EHF Champions League 2014/15 season: Russian champions

Ekaterina Fanina (Astrakhanochka)
Ekaterina Peche (Astrakhanochka)
Anita Gace (HC Lokomotiva Zagreb)
Asma El Ghaoui (HBC Nimes)

Left the club:
Elena Avdekova (Rostov-Don)
Alexandra Stepanova (Rostov-Don)
Valentina Goncharova (Astrakhanochka)
‎Katty Piejos (AS Cannes)
Ksenia Makeeva (HCM Baia Mare)
Mayssa Raquel De Pessoa (CSM Bucuresti)

Coach: Victor Riabych (since 2008).

Women’s EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2014/15 season): 14
Semi-finalist (1): 1999/00
Quarter-finalist (1): 2000/01
Main Round (2): 2009/10, 2010/11
Group Phase (6): 2001/02, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2011/12, 2012/13
Qualification Phase (3): 2002/03, 2003/04, 2008/09

Other EC records:

EHF Cup:
Winner (1): 2007/08
Semi-finalist (1): 2008/09
Quarter-finalist (4): 1998/99, 2002/03, 2003/04, 2013/14

Cup Winners’ Cup:
Semi-finalist (1): 2011/12
Quarter-finalist (2): 2004/05, 2012/13

City Cup:
Winner (1): 1994/95
Semi-finalist: 1997/98

Champions Trophy:
Winner (1): 1994/95
Finalist (1): 1999/00
Final round (1): 2007/08

Russian league: 12 titles (1993, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)

TEXT: Björn Pazen / gc