EHF European Cup 2017/18 - Article - Huge transition, high hopes in Nasice
03.02.2018, 09:50◄ last page     

EHF Cup countdown #12: RK Nexe (CRO). With nine new players this season, the Croatian side are returning to the group phase after three years.

Huge transition, high hopes in Nasice

In the last two seasons, two eventual semi-finalists - Nantes and Magdeburg - blocked Nexe’s way to the EHF Cup Group Phase. This time in qualification, the Nasice-based Croatian runners-up had an easier test with Ribe-Esbjerg from Denmark - and passed it.

For the second time after 2014/15 the team of head coach Hrvoje Horvat are among the 16 best teams of the competition. Defending champions Göppingen, Slovenian neighbours Koper and Finland’s Cocks are Nexe’s opponents in Group B.

Before the start of this season, a huge transition took place in Nasice as nine players left and nine new arrivals had to be integrated in the team.

Despite all the changes, coach Horvat is confident his team can have a successful international season.

“Göppingen are the group favourites with their tremendous international experience. It will be a great privilege to play against such a renowned opponent,” Horvat says. “But all other clubs can also advance to the next round. We have to play at our limits as I believe that there will be a lot of tight games in our group, games that will be decided on the last ball or two.”

Most experienced player in the Nexe squad is wing Vedran Zrnic, former EHF Cup winner with Gummersbach.

Among the new arrivals is Austrian national team goalkeeper Kristian Pilipovic while Croatian international Josip Božić Pavletić left to domestic rivals PPD Zagreb.

“We aim to get closer to them,” says Horvat. “We want to be part of the EHF Cup Group Phase every year to build up our reputation in European handball.”

In terms of his personal favourites for the EHF Cup Finals in Magdeburg, Horvat does not name a single team.

“A lot of good clubs play in the EHF Cup, many of them could easily play Champions League,” he says. “I would not like to extract anybody. The key will be current form, timing, and health.”

RK Nexe (CRO)

Qualification for the EHF Cup Group Phase 2017/18: Round 2:  27:25, 32:21 against Pölva (EST), Round 3: 26:29, 26:21 against Ribe-Esbjerg (DEN)

Newcomers: Patrik Leban (RIKO Ribnica), Aljaž Lavrič (Krka), Ivan Koncul (Ribola Kaštela), Josip Jurić Grgić (Valur), Kristian Pilipović (WAT Fivers), Marin Jelinić (Ribola Kaštela), Marin Šipić (GRK Varaždin), Mario Tomić (Al-Lekhwia), Marko Buvinić (Bregenz)

Left the club: Josip Božić Pavletić (PPD Zagreb), Marin Vegar (Steaua Bucuresti), Marin Sakić (VAC), Tomislav Nuić (Bešiktaš), Mirko Herceg (Massy Essonne Handball), David Špiler (Metalac), Damir Halilković (Selka Eskişehir Hentbol), Mislav Nenadić (Hapoel Altshuler Shacham Rishon LeZion), Gregor Lorger (HSV Hamm Westfalen)

Coach: Hrvoje Horvat (since November 2016)

Team captain: Marko Mrdenovic

Opponents in the group matches: Göppingen, Koper and Cocks in Group C

EHF Champions League records:

Other European Cup records:

Cup Winners’ Cup:

EHF Cup:
Last 16: 2011/12
Group Phase: 2014/15

EHF Challenge Cup:

Croatian champions: - (runners-up in last nine years)
Croatian cup winners: -

TEXT: Björn Pazen / ew

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