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20.12.2017, 21:30◄ last page     


Women's EHF Cup countdown #3: Many top stars have left Kuban Krasnodar but the Russian side will still be a force to be reckoned with
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Trefilov, Kuby and Krasnodar fans hope for hot winter

After Russia’s 34:17 demolition by Norway in the Women’s IHF World Championship Quarter-finals, coach Evgeny Trefilov and two of his Kuban players, goalkeeper Viktoriia Kalinina and line player Ekaterina Matlashova, will turn their attention to club handball again.

In the Women’s EHF Cup, Trefilov’s side have tough nuts to crack as they face French champions Brest, who are coming from the EHF Champions League, Randers and Craiova in Group A.

“There are no weak opponents in this group,” Trefilov says. “Brest are the favourites, Craiova eliminated the strong Hungarian side Debrecen in qualification and Danish clubs are always serious contenders. So it will be interesting.”

After an easy second qualification round against Medicinar from Serbia, Kuban faced former champions Astrakhan in an all-Russian duel in Round 3 and made it through despite an away defeat.

Many top stars have left Kuban, like Marina Sudakova (Rostov-Don), Polina Kuznetsova (Vardar Skopje) or Ekaterina Marennikova and Yana Uskova, who both ended their careers. Also, Olympic champion Viktoriya Zhilinskayte is currently out because of pregnancy.

Trefilov mainly count on the home matches in the group phase - and the support from the stands: “I hope the winter will be hot for our opponents at Krasnodar. Last season, we had a great audience at the Sports Palace, which really helped us in qualifying for the quarter-finals.”

But there Kuban were eliminated, like three times before. Eventual finalists Bietigheim were the final destination of the still all-Russian squad, which on domestic level hope to snatch away the trophy from current champions Rostov.

In the learning process for his rejuvenated squad, international competition is crucial, according to Trefilov: “This is very important, both for the growth of the skill of the players and for our fans. European competitions always cause an increased interest among TV viewers and fans.”

And all of them love Kuby, the mascot, a warrior from the mythical tribe of the Kubazon, once inhabiting the territory of the Krasnodar Region.

The coach, who has won Olympic gold, four World championship trophies and all major European Cup competitions, expects no clear race for the EHF Cup trophy this season.

“There are no favourites though those teams arriving from the Champions League stand out. But we have the ability to duel with them. The leading nations in this competition will be Russia, Denmark, Norway.”

Apart from a huge number of new players, the general manager is also new since September 2017: Stanislav Kulinchenko, Olympic champion in 2000, who has been the sports director of Kuban before.

Kuban Krasnodar (RUS)

Qualification for EHF Cup Group Phase 2017/18: Round 2, 33:23, 35:22 against ZRK Medicinar (SRB); Round 3, 27:29, 33:29 against Astrakhanocka (RUS)

Newcomers: Ekaterina Barkalova, Snezhana Makhneva (both Stavropolye-SKFU), Ksenia Karpacheva (Lada Togliatti), Ekaterina Matlashova (Luch Moscow), Elizaveta Sobina (Dinamo-Sinara Volgograd)

Left the club: Marina Sudakova (Rostov-Don), Polina Kuznetsova (Vardar Skopje), Ekaterina Marennikova (end of carrier), Yana Uskova (end of career), Irina Antonova (Astrakhanochka), Natalia Danshina (without a club), Ksenia Dyachenko (Lada Togliatti), Valentina Goncharova (Turkey), Iana Zhilinskayte, Olga Gorshenina (both Alba Fehervar), Viktoriia Divak (France), Oksana Koroleva (end of carreer),  Viktoriya Zhilinskayte (pregnancy)

Coach: Evgenii Trefilov (since May 2016)

Team captain: Viktoriia Kalonina

Opponents in group phase: Brest, Randers, Craiova in Group A

EHF Women’s Champions League records:
-

Other EC records:

Cup Winners' Cup:
Final: 1999/2000
Quarter-final: 1997/98, 1998/99, 2000/01

EHF Cup:
Quarter-final: 2008/09, 2009/10, 2012/13, 2016/17

City Cup:
Semi-final: 1995/96
Quarter-final 1996/97

EHF Challenge Cup:
-

Russian league: 1989, 1992
Russian cup: 1987, 1988


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ew

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