Besiktas want to make Last 16 dream come trueArticle
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VELUX EHF Champions League countdown: Besiktas Mogaz HT (TUR). Starting in their 10th season, the Turkish champions are hoping this will be their year

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Besiktas want to make Last 16 dream come true

Dominating the domestic league since 2009, the serial Turkish champions are hungry for success on European level, too.

Appearing in the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase for a fourth straight season, Besiktas believe they are ready to reach at least the Group C/D play-offs.

Three questions before the new season:

- Who will fill the void of the legendary Ibrahim Demir?

After 11 years and 26 trophies with Besiktas, former team captain Ibrahim Demir has left the club to join the domestic rivals from Bursa. There are no big names among the new arrivals so Besiktas will have to spread the responsibilty over more players, like new captain Ramazan Döne, line player Tolga Ozbahar and playmaker Nemanja Pribak.

- Can Besiktas make handball more popular in Turkey?

With football and basketball being the top team sports in Turkey, handball has always struggled to get public interest. Even becoming the most successful Turkish sports team – if they win their 10th straight league title this season – Besikas need to fight hard for every spectator. But combined with the success of the national team, they have a chance.

- Is qualification for the Group C/D play-offs a realistic goal?

“We are in a tough group,” coach Müfit Arin said after the draw, and he is right. Last year’s quarter-finalist Montpellier and the experienced and physical strong Ukrainian side of Motor Zaporozhye are high hurdles in the group phase. The remaining opponents seem to be within reach but Besiktas will have to leave either Montpellier or Zaporozhye behind them.

Under spotlight: Karim Mostafa Hassan Hendawy

As previous first-choice goalkeeper Yunus Özmusul has departed to Göztepe, Egyptian international Karim Mostafa Hassan Hendawy shall fill the void. Carrying experience from the national team and several Super Globe participations with his former club Al-Zamalek (Cairo), he is supposed to be the new No. 1, but he will share the position with another new arrival, Taner Günay.


Since 2009, Besiktas have constantly been Turkish champions. For the fourth straight time, they are part of the Champions League Group Phase. Having gained more experience, Besiktas hope “to get closer to the Last 16,” which means in the first place: reaching the play-offs. “We will do our best and try to reach a position among the top two of our group,” says manager Berk Karahan, adding: “The VELUX EHF Champions League is the highest ranked competition we can be part of. So to be among those teams means that we can compete on the highest level.” New team captain Ramazan Döne is aware of the steep way: “We are in a group with powerful teams but we all will do our best to proceed.”

Fun fact

Their main home venue, the Kocaeli Sehit Polis Recep Topaloglu Spor Salonu, is situated some 100 kilometres away from Istanbul in Izmit, in the Asian part of Turkey. It is the only VELUX EHF Champions League arena outside of Europe. Their second choice is the 15,000-capacity new Sinan Erdem arena in Istanbul.

What the numbers say

Besiktas are part of the EHF Champions League for a 10th time. This anniversary should be their lucky number as they have never ‘survived’ the group phase so far. However, Besiktas are still the only Turkish club to have made it to the group phase.

Besiktas Mogaz HT (TUR)

Qualification for the VELUX EHF Champions League 2017/18 season: Turkish champions

Newcomers: Taner Günay (B.B. Ankaraspor/TUR), Karim Mostafa Hassan Hendawy (Zamalek Club/EGY), Mijo Tomic (Merzifon Belediyesi/TUR), Tomislav Nuic  (NEXE/CRO), Stevan Sretenovic (USAM Nimes Gard/FRA)

Left the club: İbrahim Demir (Bursa Nilüfer Bld./TUR), Predrag Dacevic (Maccabi Tel Aviv/ISR), Jozef Holpert (destination unknown), Ivan Nincevic (retired), Yunus Ozmusul (Göztepe SK/TUR)

Coach: Müfit Arin (since 2003)

Team captain: Ramazan Döne

VELUX EHF Champions League records:

Participations (including 2017/18 season): 10
Group Phase (3): 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17
Qualification (6): 2005/06, 2007/08, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13

Other EC records:

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

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

Turkish league:
13 titles (1980, 1981, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

Turkish cup:
12 titles (1999, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

TEXT: Björn Pazen / ew