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EHF Champions League: Four champions in Group 2, three newcomers in Group 1

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In the “group of death”, four winners of the Women’s EHF Champions League will play in the main round as the reigning champions of the European, Györi Audi ETO KC, have been drawn to Group 2 alongside the 2012 winners Buducnost, the 2011 trophy holders Larvik HK and RK Krim Mercator, who dominated already twice in the competition (2001 and 2003).

Today’s draw at the EHF Office in Vienna defined both main round quartets also setting a group of three main round newcomers in group 1.

Danish champions FC Midtjylland will face Germany’s Thüringer HC, Sweden’s IK Sävehof and emerging Macedonian power WHC Vardar SCBT, who are in their first season amongst the Europe’s elite.

The first round of the next stage is scheduled for 1/2 February, the last for 15/16 March. Only two best teams of each group will qualify for the semi-finals.

While four former winners of the EHF Champions League Györ, Larvik, Krim and Buducnost repeated their presence in the top eight of the continent, Midtyjlland returned after one-year absence and three teams – Vardar, Thüringer and Sävehof will make their debuts in the main round.

Two shining stars of the EHF Champions League courts helped EHF Secretary General Michael Wiederer and Competition’s Commission Chairman Leopold Kalin to carry out the draw in Vienna as Györ’s line player Heidi Loke drew the teams from Pot 1 and Krim’s centre back Tamara Mavsar pulled out the teams from Pot 2.

Women’s EHF Champions League Main Round groups:

Group 1:

1) FC Midtjylland (DEN)
2) WHC Vardar SCBT (MKD)
3) IK Sävehof (SWE)
4) Thüringer HC (GER)

Group 2:

1) RK Krim Mercator (SLO)
2) Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN)
3) Larvik HK (NOR)
4) Buducnost (MNE)

STATEMENTS AFTER THE WOMEN’S EHF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE MAIN ROUND DRAW

Ernö Kelecsenyi, Györ president: “It is an enormously tough group, but it is too soon to make any predictions as we are going to have the World Championships soon and everything can change there. I will be more willing to say something about our chances only in January.”

Ana Mihajlovska, WHC Vardar director: “We were very lucky with this draw today, we wished these Scandinavian teams and we got them. The second group is very strong and we will have a better chance to reach the Women’s FINAL4.”

“There is a handball boom in Macedonia and we are sure these matches will draw huge crowds to our arena.”

Predrag Boskovic, Buducnost president: “Only Kiel and Barcelona are missing in this group. We are convinced it will be no problem for our arena Moraca to get more than full for these matches. It will be interesting how things will develop.

“Of course, Györ are the main contenders, but we will fight to the end. We will have some time for all our new players to get used to our play and our performance might be better in two months time.”

Goran Dujic, Krim director: “It is a historical group with four European champions. That’s going to be tough, oh my god! There is no question we will have Stozice Arena completely full for these three matches. This is a really fantastic draw.”

Tone Tiselj, Krim coach: “I never make wishes ahead of draws, but I have to say this is a really strong group. We are going to play against the champions of the last three editions.”

“Currently I would say that Györ are the strongest followed by Buducnost, who have improved a lot compared to the previous season, but this can very quickly change after the World Championships.”

Rüdiger Osterloh, IK Sävehof: “I’m very satisfied. The other group with four former winners is obviously very strong. But now it looks as we will be able to gain some points, even though it’s very unlikely that we will proceed. But it will definitely mean that our players gain more international experience.”

“Reaching the main round was our goal, that’s what we worked hard for. This is also good for Swedish handball as we will rise in the nation’s ranking which means that next time the Swedish champions will directly qualify for the Champions League.”

Andy Spiridon, Thüringer HC: “We are very satisfied about this group. It is the first time that we qualified for the main round and we are proud that we have reached it.”

“Our goal is to get between four and six points in this group and I consider our chances to advance somewhere between 40 and 50 per cent. We especially count on our fans’ support. They are our eighth player.”

Marit Skretteberg, board member Larvik HK: “This is a tough and hard group, and all teams can win it. We will fight the whole way and see what happens. We hope to get to the semi-final. I think the introduction of a FINAL4 can give us an extra boost.”

Torben Kølbæk, FC Midtjylland director: “We are looking forward to all matches. It’s difficult to name any preference as your opponents are the seven best teams the world. There is no easy draw.”

“We will what see what happens. We didn’t believe we can go that far, but everything is possible from now on. We have a strong team, but we are vulnerable for injuries. We have a very strong first seven, but if any more players get injured, we will inevitably run into problems.”

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