Cisnadie eye best season yet in Europe
This article is the first in a series of 16, presenting all the group phase participants of the EHF European League Women 2021/22.
CS Magura Cisnadie may only have been founded in 2014 but their ambitions were soon highlighted by their promotion to the Romanian first league in the subsequent year. A team that prided itself on experience and the know-how of veterans, Cisnadie failed to avoid defeat in all 12 games played in the Women’s EHF Cup group phase in the 2018/19 and the 2019/20 seasons.
This time around, the Romanian side has a more international feeling, with a Romanian core, boosted by Russian, Brazilian and Serbian players, in their quest for their first win in the group phase of a European competition. However, the draw pitted Cisnadie against strong opponents, which will surely hamper their chances and consolidate their underdog status in the EHF European League Women.
- back in the group phase of a European competition after a one-year hiatus, CS Magura Cisnadie will look to use their previous experiences to improve
- Cisnadie have never won a game in the group phase, losing all 12 played in the Women’s EHF Cup with a goal difference of -125
- the Romanian side progressed to the group phase, after a 52:52 aggregate draw against DHK Banik Most in qualification round 2, thanks to the away goals rule, and taking a 47:43 aggregate win against DVSC Schaeffler in the round 3
- their start of the season has been strong, locking the fifth place in the Romanian domestic league and losing only four games in all competitions until December
- none of the players who represented Cisnadie in their first European season, 2018/19, are currently in the team
Most important question: Are they finally going to win a game?
Magura were in the group phase of the Women’s EHF Cup in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons, but lost all 12 games, with a combined goal difference of -125. In both seasons, Magura Cisnadie was one of the two teams that failed to win a point, a testament of their lack of depth and experience, which thoroughly plagued the Romanian side and their chances in the competition. In fact, the Romanian’s side best result was a 31:29 home loss against HC Podravka Vegeta two seasons ago, but an understrength Cisnadie team never looked like they could win a game.
This time around, things look different. The team is well-balanced, with an interesting mix of experience and youth. North Macedonian right back Elena Gjorgjievska has plenty of seasons in the DELO EHF Champions League under her belt, while the addition of experienced right back Marilena Neagu also worked wonders. Neagu was the top scorer in the qualification ties against DHK Banik Most and DVSC Schaeffler, putting 24 goals past Cisnadie’s opponents, including an 11-goal outing against Most.
The defence also looks bolstered, with the addition of line player Raluca Bacaoanu, who also was selected in the past years for the Romanian national team and the experienced Russian goalkeeper Kira Trusova. All in all, Cisnadie look better equipped than ever to finally hit gold in the group phase.
Under the spotlight: Marilena Neagu
Marilena Neagu has been shining for Cisnadie, after overcoming the biggest hurdle in her career, a one-year suspension for a doping violation handed to the entire Corona Brasov side she played for at the time. A former right wing, who is currently plying her trade as a back, Neagu has hit the ground running in superb style, being Magura’s top scorer both in the domestic league, where she scored 45 times in nine games.
Neagu, who is not related to Romanian stalwart Cristina Neagu, is a fast, creative player, with a powerful shot, that can be a nuisance for oppositions defences. If Cisnadie are to complete their objectives, they will surely need more of the same from the 32-year-old back.
How they rate themselves
As underdogs, but confident. This is not the first European rodeo for virtually all of the players in Cisnadie’s roster, separating them from their previous woes. The mood is confident, but the opponents are difficult: Russian side HC Lada, Danish outfit Herning-Ikast Handbold, who earned a EHF Finals berth last season, and Norwegian team Storhamar.
“We are glad that CS Măgura Cisnădie, secured the right to play in the European League group phase. Thus, we hope that the 2021/22 season will officially become the best in the careers of our handball players,” said Marian Druta, the team’s president.
Did you know?
Măgura – literally a mound in English – was founded in 2014 and duly promoted in the subsequent season in the Romanian top flight. Since then, they have flirted with the top places, being hard to beat at home, even finishing third in the 2017/18 season. The were since pegged down, finishing fifth in the last season, but took part in the group phase of the Women’s EHF Cup in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons.
What the numbers say
14,282 – Cisnadie’s population at the latest census, in 2011, makes the Romanian town the second smallest in the EHF European League Women, just after Chambray-les-Tours. They are also the smallest city represented in the Romanian league, but usually fill up their 1,000-seat arena.
Arrivals and departures
Newcomers: Kira Trusova (Astrakhanochka), Marina Dmitrovic (HC Dunarea Braila), Marilena Neagu (Corona Brasov), Renata Lais de Arruda (Balonmano Bera Bera), Iulia Gariaeva (Astrakhanochka)
Left the club: Alexandra Zych (CS Minaur Baia Mare), Sylwia Lisewska (CS Dacia Mioveni), Alexandra Prodan (CSU Stiinta Bucuresti), Elena Voicu (Rapid Bucuresti), Madalina Predoi (CSM Deva), Denisa Tudor (unknown)
Group phase (2): 2018/19, 2019/20