Which teams possess the best young talent?
Every season in the DELO WOMEN’S EHF Champions League, we see rising stars break into the spotlight, proving their worth at the highest level in club handball.
As part of the series of articles on the top teams in various aspects of their squads, the focus here is on which clubs boast the most talented young players, some yet to make their mark and some who have already proven their skills at the biggest stage.
5. IK Sävehof
With the youngest squad in the competition and the oldest player aged just 25, the vast majority of this IK Sävehof side can be considered as talented youths.
23-year-old Emma Ekenman-Fernis already has three seasons of top-flight experience under her belt and will be responsible for many goals on the right-hand side of the court, while fellow Swedish international Johanna Forsberg is also a prolific scorer.
Last season’s group matches was not a pretty experience for the Partille-based club, but this season will provide opportunities to score victories, reach the main round and allow some of these young talents to make a name for themselves.
4. HC Podravka Vegeta
Podravka boosted their squad with some experienced internationals over the summer, but young home-grown talent plays a big part in the team with six of the squad were born in 2000 or later.
The standout rising star and summer signing from Krim is Tjasa Stanko. The 21-year-old can play anywhere in the back court, scored 112 goals over the past two seasons in this competition and was voted the best young player in the 2017/18 season.
Despite bolstering the squad with high-profile internationals this summer, Buducnost will still be relying on the youth developed over the past few seasons by coach Dragan Adzic.
At 22, Djurdjina Jaukovic has cemented her spot as the club’s biggest back court shooter, while the line position is filled by 21-year-old Tatjana Brnovic and 22-year-old Ema Ramusovic.
As Buducnost make their biggest push to reach Budapest since their last appearance in 2017, we will see which of their six players aged under 20 years old will make an impact.
2. Metz Handball
Having reached the DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 last season and with nine players playing for defending world and European champions France, you would be forgiven assuming Metz are full of players at the peak of the careers.
However, they are one of the competition’s youngest squads and rising stars such as Orlane Kanor and Meline Nocandy are just 22 and 21 years old respectively. With the departure of Béatrice Edwige and Gnonsiane Niombla, plus Xenia Smits out injured at present, there will be plenty of opportunities for young squad players to shine on club handball’s biggest stage.
1. FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria
Undoubtedly the most talented young squad in the competition, which excited us all in the middle of the season, before falling short at the quarter-final stage for the fourth year in a row.
Back court players Noémi Háfra, voted best young players last season, and Katrin Klujber are supreme talents who are already delivering consistently at international level and any team in Europe would love to have.
Gréta Márton is a junior world champion from 2018, while four FTC players featured for Hungary this summer as they won both Under 17 and 19 EHF EURO titles.
TEXT: Chris O’Reilly