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Buducnost aim to get back on track

EHF / Danijela Vekić

Not many clubs have an EHF Champions League history like WHC Buducnost BEMAX do. The Montenegrin champions won the title twice and are entering their 27th season in Europe’s top flight.

Having reached the quarter-finals in 2020/21, Buducnost crashed out of the competition with a seventh-place finish in the group phase last season.

With some small changes, familiar faces, and hard work, Buducnost hope to go beyond the group phase again in 2022/23.

Main facts

  • Buducnost have one of the longest traditions in the CL, entering their 27th season
  • the team from Podgorica raised the CL trophy in 2012 and 2015
  • head coach Bojana Popovic is going into her third season at the helm
  • five players have left the club in the offseason; five others have joined, most notably returning team captain Milena Raicevic

Most important question: Can Buducnost get out of the group this time?

Buducnost have gone through changes in recent years and are building on young talents gathered at the club, backed with a few experience players. Last season, their EHF Champions League campaign ended in the group phase, leaving only Podravka Vegeta behind them in the final standings.

This season, reaching the play-offs is an obvious goal, but the task at hand will not be easy in a group that also includes record champions Györ and EHF FINAL4 2022 contenders Metz Handball and Team Esbjerg.

“Many clubs have strengthened their roster. A lot of clubs that reached the EHF FINAL4 last season will again go for the highest ranking this season. We are all looking forward to the start of the competition and those new challenges. It will not be easy, we have a similar team as last season,” says head coach Bojana Popovic, who took over in November 2020 after the departure of Dragan Adzic.

Buducnost open the new season on 10 September at Kastamonu before welcoming Esbjerg in Podgorica the following week.

Challenging opponents right at the beginning, but Milena Raicevic – having returned to Buducnost after one season at Kastamonu – hopes for the best.

“I’m looking forward to the first match in the EHF Champions League, against Kastamonu. For us, it is probably the most important game in the fight for a place in the play-offs. Of course, during the season there will be more matches that we will look forward to.”

Under the spotlight: Milena Raicevic

After her maternity leave and one season at Kastamonu, Milena Raicevic has returned home to Buducnost. The experienced centre back is the club’s biggest reinforcement this season, boosting the backcourt line with her skill and knowledge. One of Buducnost’s best scorers in the EHF Champions League, Raicevic’s performance will have great affect to the team’s play and results, as her presence will also help the younger talents to grow throughout the season.

How they rate themselves

Buducnost’s squad for the upcoming season has not gone through many changes. Players like  Valeriia Maslova, Tatjana Brnovic and Anastasija Babovic have left, but team captain Milena Raicevic, Ivana Godec, right wing Adriana Cardoso de Castro, and W19 EHF EURO 2021 top scorer Mari Plamenova Tomova are joining.

Head coach Bojana Popovic can work with a good team, balanced by experience and young talents. After last season’s results, they are determined to make it to the knockout phase again, as Raicevic points out.

“I have a great motivation to play again in the club I love. With the team we have, Buducnost can achieve a better result than last season. We have a young team, with a couple of experienced players, it will certainly be difficult,” Raicevic says.

“However, I believe that with the desire we always have in the EHF Champions League, we can take a step further than last season.”

Did you know?

Buducnost have won all Montenegrin league and cup titles since the country gained independence, and the club never missed an EHF Champions League season. Their total tally is 33 league and 27 cup titles – 15 and 16 since Montenegro’s independence.

What the numbers say

300. That is the number of EHF Champions League matches Buducnost will have played come round 10 of the 2022/23 group phase. No other team has played more matches in Europe’s top flight. Buducnosz have won 152 of their 290 matches so far; only one team has won more matches: Györ, with 191 wins (from 254 matches).

Arrivals and departures

Arrivals: Milena Raicevic (Kastamonu Belediyesi GSK, TUR), Vanesa Agovic, Ivana Godec (MKS Iuventa Michalovce, SVK), Mari Plamenova Tomova, Adriana Cardoso De Castro (BM Bera Bera, ESP)

Departures: Anastasija Babovic (SCM Craiova, ROU), Bruna Zrnic, Tatjana Brnovic (Brest Bretagne Handball, FRA), Valeriia Maslova (Metz Handball, FRA), Ivana Mitrovic

Past achievements

EHF Champions League

Participations (including 2022/23 season): 27
Winners (2): 2011/12, 2014/15
Final (1): 2013/14
Semi-finals (8): 1997/98, 1998/99, 1999/00, 2000/01, 2001/02, 2010/11, 2015/16, 2016/17
Quarter-finals (6): 2002/03, 2003/04, 2017/18, 2018/19, 2019/20*, 2020/21
Main Round (1): 2012/13
Last 16 (1): 1995/96
Group Matches (7): 1996/97, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2009/10, 2021/22 * 2019/20 season not played to a finish due to Covid-19 pandemic

Other

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

Montenegrin league: 33 titles (1985, 1989, 1990, 1992-2019, 2021, 2022)
Montenegrin cup: 27 titles (1984, 1989, 1995-98, 2000-02, 2005-22)

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