A touch of experience for Buducnost’s comeback

A perennial contender, Buducnost made a few steps back last seasons as they embarked into a slow process of rebuilding, which unearthed some gems like Djurdjina Jaukovic or Tatjana Brnovic. However, titles are hardly won with young players, rather a mix of youth and experienced players can deliver what is expected.

Therefore, an experienced coach like Dragan Adzic knew that he needed something new in the team for the DELO WOMEN’S EHF Champions League 2019/20 and Buducnost delivered, bringing back coveted wings Jovanka Radicevic and Majda Mehmedovic from CSM Bucuresti, as the Montenegrin side is serving as a platform for the women’s national team’s challenge for a medal in the Olympic Games in 2020.

“We are entering in a new season with a changed roster and with six new players. I think we are much better, and ambitions must be higher than last season,” said team captain Milena Raicevic. “I believe that we will make the most of the preparation games so that we’ll be ready to start the Champions league. Our goal is to make to the DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 that we haven’t been to in the last two years.”

Three questions before the new season:

– Are Buducnost strong enough to challenge for the title?

Dragan Adzic has been Buducnost’s coach through thick and thin, loyally leading the Montenegrin club since 2010, which makes him the longest serving coach in the DELO WOMEN’S EHF Champions League. Winning the competition twice, Adzic knows a thing or two about building a contender and pinpointed exactly his team’s weaknesses in the past seasons. “Our goal is to be back in Budapest after two seasons, but we will take this season step by step,” said Radmila Petrovic, the former Buducnost right wing and currently the club’s president. Seven players are out from last season, six new came in, but with Radicevic, Mehmedovic and Sanja Vujovic, Buducnost look better and stronger on paper. Will it be enough to challenge for the title? Speaking the same language, playing together for a long time and knowing what to expect from their teammates will surely be an advantage.

– Will this be another defensive masterpiece from Adzic?

Both of Buducnost’s trophies came after the same recipe: a slow positional attack, deadly fast breaks and a defence that can disrupt any opponent, irrespective of the stars they faced. As Dragan Adzic enters his 10th season with Buducnost, it would be foolish to think his approach towards handball has changed. Successful recipes can be altered, a new interpretation of the dish could be presented, but the key ingredients will always be there. Buducnost were a tough defensive outfit even in the past two seasons, albeit cracks appeared due to inexperience, but the mentality was still there. Expect more of the same this season, as players who came in this summer know the system and applied it in friendly games to perfection.

– Is the final piece of Buducnost’s attacking puzzle attached?

Last season, Buducnost had trouble in offence, with a meagre 23.5 goals scored per game average that left a lot to be desired. Sure, losing experienced stalwart Katarina Bulatovic, who signed for Györ, is a minus, yet the Montenegrin side looks more composed and well-balanced in attack. If friendly games are an indicator, Buducnost scored at least 25 goals in each game, despite opponents being on top level, including the likes of Brest, Metz or CSM Bucuresti. There are experienced players on each side of the court and 22-year-old left back Djurdjina Jaukovic has now one more year under her belt in the DELO WOMEN’S EHF Champions League. The Montenegrin left back scored 63 goals two seasons ago and 62 goals last season and is eager to impress once again.

Under the spotlight: Jovanka Radicevic

Born and bred in Podgorica, Radicevic, now 32, is back in Buducnost after nine seasons, as she plied her trade for Györ, Vardar and CSM Bucuresti, winning the European top competition once, in 2013, and losing another three finals. A consistent scorer, a leader on and off the court, with a natural fighting spirit, Radicevic can galvanise her team by only celebrating a goal or via her outstanding personality. The right wing never scored less than 49 goals in the past nine seasons in the DELO WOMEN’S EHF Champions League and displayed some vintage outings for CSM and Vardar in the last two years.

Self-esteem

Fighting spirit and grit have been used to describe Buducnost’s attitude towards handball in the past years so often that it became a cliché. This can be an advantage, especially in the fiery Moraca Arena, but can also bite back in tough situations. If the players can control themselves and not dwell on mistakes, then this mentality can bring them far in the competition.

Fun fact

This will be Buducnost’s 25th consecutive season in the DELO WOMEN’S EHF Champions League, a record the Montenegrin side shares with RK Krim Mercator.

What the numbers say

250 – Buducnost will become the first ever team to reach this milestone in Champions League games played. The Montenegrin side currently sits at 246 games, eight more than Krim Mercator. They have 136 wins, trailing only Györ, who are on 150 wins in the competition.

ZRK Buducnost (MNE)

Qualification for DELO WOMEN’S EHF Champions League 2019/20 season: Montenegrin champions

Newcomers: Jovanka Radicevic (CSM Bucuresti), Majda Mehmedovic (CSM Bucuresti), Sanja Vujovic (Siófok KC), Barbara Lazovic Varlec (CSM Bucuresti), Emily Stang Sando (København Håndbold), Jovana Ilic (Dubica)

Left the club: Katarina Bulatovic (Györi Audi ETO KC), Darly Zoqbi de Paula (CS Gloria 2018 Bistrița-Nasaud), Itana Grbic (CSM Bucuresti), Dijana Ujkic (CS Magura Cisnadie), Ivona Pavicevic (Corona Brasov), Cristina Laslo (Corona Brasov), Anastasia Suslova (Zvezda Zvenigorod)

Team captain: Milena Raicevic

Coach: Dragan Adzic (since 2010)

Women’s EHF Champions League record:

Participations (including 2019/20 season): 24
Winners (2): 2011/12, 2014/15
Runners-up (1): 2013/14
Semi-finals (8): 1997/98, 1998/99, 1999/00, 2000/01, 2001/02, 2010/11, 2015/16, 2016/17
Quarter-final (4): 2002/03, 2003/04, 2017/18, 2018/19
Main Round (1): 2012/13
Last 16 (1): 1995/96
Group Matches (6): 1996/97, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2009/10

Other

Cup Winners Cup:
Winners: 2005/06, 2009/10

Montenegrin league:
31 titles (1985, 1989, 1990, 1992-2019)

Montenegrin cup:
24 titles (1984, 1989, 1995-98, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005-19)

TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / ew