23.12.2017, 20:31◄ last page     

Women’s EHF Cup countdown #6: Lada ready to make up for last season’s disappointment and progress from a tough Group B

A talented squad with high hurdles to clear

Last season they began the group phase as one of the main contenders, but narrowly missed out on progressing from the competition’s tightest group.

The club will celebrate its 20th anniversary in April and hope to mark it with a successful European campaign.

The first goal for the Russian runners-up, featuring team captain and Olympic champion Daria Dmitrieva, is to proceed to the quarter-finals, but getting that far will not be straight forward for the 2007 EHF Champions League finalists and EHF Cup winners in 2012 and 2013, with duels against Issy, Vipers and Koebenhavn in Group B.

Coach Levon Akopyan expects a high level, as “our group is very strong and is composed of equal teams. I hope all matches will be attractive for our fans and useful for the players. We are looking forward to take on interesting tasks.”

Some changes occurred in his all-Russian squad as six players left and eight new arrivals have been integrated into the most important talent pool of Russian handball.

They dealt with upcoming opponents Kristiansand in the qualification last season and had little trouble qualifying this season, leaving French side Besancon behind with two clear wins.

For Akopyan, being part of the group phase is crucial for the development of Russian handball and his talents.

“There are only a very few teams with such a chance. We are glad that participation in this competition can play a great role particularly for the growth of skill of our young players. We want to go as far as possible; we think it will be very important for handball promotion in our club, city, region and country.”

Though many opponents have Lada on their list of favorites, the coach remains quite humble: “All 16 group phase participants are in the same position at the start. We are no exception. And we are ready for the next round.

“The group phase will show which sides are worthy of going to the final. We will focus from match to match and we can talk about favourites when we reach the quarter-finals.”

Handball Club Lada Togliatti (RUS)

Qualification for the 2017/18 EHF Cup Group Phase: Round 3: 30:22, 36:32 against Besancon (FRA)

Newcomers: Ksenia Dyachenko (Kuban Krasnodar), Natalia Ivanova (Zvezda Zvenigorod), Maria Kerchikova (Universitet Izhevsk), Anastasia Lagina (Luch Moscow), Elena Mikhaylichenko (Sports school Olymp Togliatti), Anastasia Novoselova (from maternity leave), Kristina Tarasova (Zagnosspor, Turkey), Polina Vedekhina (Dinamo-Sinara)

Left the club: Ksenia Karpacheva (Kuban Krasnodar), Elizaveta Malashenko (Astrakhanochka Astrakhan), Anastasia Portyagina (Universitet Izhevsk), Daria Samokhina (Astrakhanochka Astrakhan), Daria Terekhova (Luch Moscow), Olesya Tsivka (end of career)

Coach: Levon Akopyan (since 2013/14).

Team captain: Daria Dmitrieva

Opponents in the group matches: Issy, Kristiansand and Koebenhavn in Group B

EHF Women’s Champions League records:
Final: 2006/07
Semi-final 2007/08
Quarter-final 2002/03, 2003/04, 2005/06

Other EC records:

Cup Winners’ Cup:
Winner: 2001/02
Finalist: 2015/16

EHF Cup:
Winner: 2012/12, 2013/14
Semi-final: 2010/11
Group Phase: 2016/17

Russian league: 6 titles: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008
Russian cup: 2006

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor

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