Bistrita set the bar high in maiden European seasonArticle
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WOMEN’S EHF CUP COUNTDOWN #8: CS Gloria 2018 Bistrita-Nasaud (ROU). The Romanian side had a roller-coaster ride in progressing to the group phase of the competition, but are looking to make the most out of it
»2019-20 Women's News

Bistrita set the bar high in maiden European season

An all-Romanian tie for a place in the Women’s EHF Cup’s group phase ended with Corona Brasov taking the spoils, only to be provisionally suspended from EHF competitions after players of the club were presumed to have participated in an intravenous laser therapy session.

Agony led to ecstasy for Bistrita, who took their place in group B and will now face off with MKS Lublin from Poland, ÉRD from Hungary and Odense Handbold from Denmark.

Three questions before the Women’s EHF Cup group phase:

- Are Bistrita strong enough to compete at this level?

Bistrita did not progress after the tense double-header with Brasov, losing out on away goals in the 49:49 draw in the qualification round 3.

However, Brasov were provisionally suspended after players allegedly underwent an intravenous laser therapy session considered a prohibited method.

“We would have liked to qualify against Brasov, but it is what it is now. We must understand that this is not only about Gloria Bistrita now, it is about Romania and a Romanian team that must play at the highest level,” said Gloria’s coach, Horatiu Pasca.

Gloria are in their maiden season in an European competition, but this does not mean they do not have ambitions.

“I think Odense are the clear favourites to win the group, but the battle for the second place is wide open,” says Pasca. “We have players who amount for 750 games together at their national teams, they also played at the top in European competitions, so why not dream at progressing to the next phase?” adds Bistrita’s coach.

- What did the signings from abroad bring to the team?

In their first seasons in the Romanian league, Bistrita relied on Romanian players, but understood that they needed upgrades if they were to compete at the highest level, both in the domestic league and in Europe.

Two Belarussian back court players, Dziyana Ilyina and Nataliia Vasileuskaya, were recruited this season, while Darly Zoqbi de Paula, the Spanish goalkeeper who helped her side won the silver medal in the World Championship in December, was also brought in this summer.

Brazilian player, Mariana Costa, was added this summer, making Bistrita a team with players from five different nations.

“It was difficult to gel the team in the beginning, as we had our share of trouble and that was to be seen from the results. Now, the team started clicking and we are looking better and better,” said Gloria’s coach, Horatiu Pasca.

- How can Bistrita surprise their opponents?

Romanian teams have won the Women’s EHF Cup four times, including a surprising win from SCM Craiova two seasons ago, which caught everyone by surprise.

Craiova were not a star-studded team, rather a working side, who pushed their defensive nous to superb limits and going all the way to the trophy. Bistrita are not molded in Craiova’s defence-first mentality, but they still have some strong weapons to surprise their opponents.

Boasting veterans like Valentina Ardean-Elisei, Magdalena Paraschiv and Darly Zoqbi de Paula in their roster, one should not count Bistrita out in any given moment.

Under the spotlight: Valentina Ardean-Elisei

Elisei is one of the most decorated Romanian players, winning the Romanian league seven times, the Romanian Cup four times, while also winning the Cup Winners’ Cup in 2007 with Oltchim and the Women’s EHF Cup in 2018 with SCM Craiova.

Now 37 years old, Elisei is a dual-threat player, a left wing who can also cover the left back position.

While her agility has dipped a little, she still has the speed and the aggression which made her the all-star left wing at EHF EURO 2008 and at two World Championships, in 2005 and 2015. Elisei scored ten times in the double-header against Brasov and Bistrita will likely need more of the same if they are to survive in this competition.


Bistrita had an awkward start of the season, but were on the up before the break, winning the past five games. Progressing to the group phase of the Women’s EHF Cup due to Brasov’s problems was unexpected, but a morale booster for the Romanian side, who are now eyeing a place in the quarter-finals of the competition.

Fun fact

Bistrita were in the second tier four seasons ago, but now are boasting a silver medalist at the recently concluded World Championship, Darly Zoqby de Paula. They also have players from five different countries – Romania, Spain, Brazil, Montenegro and Belarus.

What the numbers say

Bistrita have never placed better than third in a competition in their history, finishing third in the Romanian cup in the 2016/17 season and in the domestic league last season.

CS Gloria 2018 Bistrita-Nasaud (ROU)

Qualified for Women’s EHF Cup group phase: 
49:49 vs CSM Corona Brasov, advancing due to Brasov being provisionally suspended (R3)

Newcomers: Mariana Costa (SCM Craiova), Dziyana Ilyina (SCM Gloria Buzau), Stefania Lazar (CSM Slatina), Andra Moroianu (Universitatea Cluj Napoca), Ljubica Nenezic (Kastamonu Belediyesi GSK), Nataliia Vasileuskaya (SCM Ramnicu Valcea), Darly Zoqbi de Paula (Buducnost), Diana Samant (Marta Baia Mare)

Left the club: Ana Maria Mazareanu (Minaur Baia Mare), Almudena Rodriguez (Thüringer HC), Paula Garcia (Rincon Malaga), Stefania Lazar (loaned to Rapid Bucuresti), Daniela Todor (Rapid Bucuresti), Lia Cristina Santamarean (retired)

Coach: Horatiu Pasca (since August 2014)

Team captain: Daniela Ratiu

European Cup record:
EHF Cup: First season

Romanian league: -
Romanian cup: -



TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / cor