Turkish champions hoping for carnivalesque atmosphereArticle
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VELUX EHF Champions League club countdown: 23 days to go - Besiktas Mogaz HT endured a rough ride among Europe's elite last season but are keen to bounce back and contend for a place in the Last 16

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Turkish champions hoping for carnivalesque atmosphere

It is all about establishing, developing and growing at Besiktas. Though the twelve-time Turkish champions have lost their top scorer and star Darko Djukic to VELUX EHF Champions League winners Vive Tauron Kielce, the hopes for the Istanbul-based club are high as they aim to be a competitive opponent in the upcoming season.

The squad has undergone some changes and was bolstered by two players with German Bundesliga experience: Turkish goalkeeper Yunus Özmusul (returning from TVB 1898 Bittenfeld) and Bosnian Faruk Vrazalic (Füchse Berlin).

With the new line-up manager Berk Karahan hopes to improve the club and raise more interest: “The VELUX EHF Champions League is a highly competitive and tough competition. It will take time to establish ourselves there, but we are sparing no effort. It is all about how much you fight in the matches. We have to fight until the end. No pain, no gain is our motto.”

With good domestic and international results, Besiktas aim to drum up interest in handball: “Fans are so important. We consider ourselves new to the European handball family, and if our fans want us to be successful, they should fill the stands every time we come out to play,” stated Karahan.

Last season, the Turkish champions came away from Group A with only one win from 14 matches - against Zagreb. Now they aim for more victories, as team captain Ibrahim Demir predicts: “We want to qualify for the Last 16, and with the help of our fans, we hope to play our games in a carnivalesque atmosphere.”

For manager Karahan, success and gaining experience is what counts: “The Turkish League and Turkish Cup are so important for our club. We have to win both. But also competing in the Champions League is great for us and for Turkish Handball. We have to move step by step and we should focus on winning each game.”

In the pre-season Besiktas were shocked by a tragic car accident where their young right wing Kubilay Yılmaz was badly hurt. For two weeks he was in a critical condition, but the situation has recently improved.

Besiktas Mogaz HT (TUR)

Qualification for the 2016/17 VELUX EHF Champions League season: Turkish champions

Newcomers: Yunus Özmusul (TVB 1898 Bittenfeld), Onur Ersin (Göztepe SK), Faruk Vrazalic (Füchse Berlin), Mihajlo Radojkovic (Partizan RK), Jozef Holpert (Bursa Nilüfer Bel)

Left the club: Darko Djukic (Vive Tauron Kielce), Miroslav Kocic (Saran HB), Nikolay Sorokin (Steaua Bucuresti), Maksym Karamyshev (ZTR Zaporozhye), Ömer Ozan Arifoglu (Beykoz Bel SK), Ugur Coban (Beykoz Bel SK), Senol Boyar (Izmir BSB SK), Berkay Gülyurt (Izmir BSB SK), Ercan Asıkoglu (unknown)

Coach: Müfit Arin (since 2003)

Team captain: Ibrahim Demir

Opponents in group phase: Nantes, Holstebro, Zaporozhye, Bucuresti and the winner of the qualification tournament 2, in Group D

VELUX EHF Champions League records:

Participations (including 2016/17 season): 9
Group Phase (2): 2015/16, 2016/17
Qualification (7): 2005/06, 2007/08, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14

Other EC records:

EHF Cup:
Last 16: 1998/99, 2005/06, 2010/11

Challenge Cup:
Semi-final: 2008/09
Quarter-final: 2002/03

Turkish champions: 1980, 1981, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
Turkish Cup winners: 1999, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016
Super Cup winner: 1980, 1981, 1997 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012

TEXT: Björn Pazen / bc