Masters in Turkey, pupils in EuropeArticle
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VELUX EHF Champions League countdown: Besiktas Mogaz HT (TUR). For the fifth straight time in the group phase, the Turkish record champions finally want to reach the play-offs
»2018-19 Men's News

Masters in Turkey, pupils in Europe

They beat eventual VELUX EHF Champions League winners Montpellier, but Besiktas Mogaz HT still failed to advance from their group last season - once again.

With a quite experienced squad, the team of coach Müfit Arin hope to reach the play-offs in 2018/19 and give Turkish handball another boost.

Three questions ahead of the new season:

- Is making it to the play-offs a realistic goal?

In the previous two seasons, Besiktas proved their development and finished their Groups C/D campaign in third place, each time after winning five of their 10 matches.

This season, they won’t face opponents like Montpellier or Zaporozhye, which certainly boosts their chances. Bjerringbro-Silkeborg are widely regarded as favourites but Besiktas should be in the race for one of the two top spots. “It is all about fighting in each and every game. We have to fight until the end. No pain, no gain,” says manager Berk Karahan.

- How much experience did Besiktas gain in the previous seasons?

Compared to five years ago, when they first qualified for the group phase, their playing style has developed and their international experience has certainly increased. Still, their learning curve is not yet complete, and opponents such as Medvedi or Metalurg have a longer Champions League history.

“It will take time to establish ourselves, but we are sparing no effort. We must still be considered as new ones in European handball,” says manager Karahan, adding: “But when you see the general development of our sport in Turkey, we have thousands of kids, who love and follow handball. This is part of our experience.”

- Is there a chance to bridge the gap to football or basketball?

Football and basketball are clearly the two most popular team sports in Turkey. The number of spectators, the budgets, and the media presence of basketball are huge compared to handball. But Besiktas have the chance to move into a new arena for 10,000 fans, and making it to the knockout stage of the VELUX EHF Champions League would mean a true boost for the club and the sport.

“This year we would like to play in Istanbul again, what could be a great thing for Turkish handball,” manager Karahan says.

Under the spotlight: Marko Lasica

One went to Romania, his successor arrived from Romania: Montenegrin right wing Marko Lasica shall replace Bosnian right wing Faruk Vrazalic at Besiktas. Lasica played for Timisoara before, while Varzalic has moved to Bucharest. Lasica was present at two EHF EURO events with Montenegro, and he has played for clubs in Montenegro, Hungary, Greece and Romania.


There is only one objective in the VELUX EHF Champions League: at least qualifying for the Group C/D play-offs. “Other teams are not stronger than us. We just need to focus week by week, in every minute of all matches”, says team captain Ramazan Döne. And manager Berk Karahan adds: “We have to move step by step and we should focus on winning each game. This year should be different compared to past years.”

Fun fact

What do Barça Lassa and Besiktas Istanbul have in common? They were two of the three teams (alongside Motor Zaporozhye) to beat eventual VELUX EHF Champions League winners Montpellier last season. But Besiktas were the only team that celebrated their victory (33:28) in an away match in France.

What the numbers say

Besiktas have won the domestic league for 10 straight seasons. And they won the Turkish cup nine times in the last 10 seasons. No better proof of the club’s dominance of Turkish handball.


✅ #BeşiktaşMogaz #ParkeninKartalları

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Besiktas Mogaz HT (TUR)

Qualification for VELUX EHF Champions League 2018/19 season:
Turkish champions

Newcomers: Baran Nalbantoglu (Göztepe SK), Özgür Sarak (Ankara BŞB SK), Yiğit Yaşar Kocaarslan (Aziziye Bel SK), Marko Lasica (Timisoara)

Left the club: Faruk Vrazalic (CSM Bucharest), Filip Lazarov (Ratingen), Mihajlo Radojkovic (Calarasi)

Coach: Müfit Arin (since 2003)

Team captain: Ramazan Döne

VELUX EHF Champions League records:

Participations (including 2018/19 season): 11
Group Phase (4): 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18
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:
14 titles (1980, 1981, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)

Turkish cup:
13 titles (1999, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)

TEXT: Björn Pazen / ew