High-flying Eurofarm Rabotnik land on top level
The success story of HC Eurofarm Rabotnik is reaching new heights in 2019/20. After playing in the Challenge Cup two years ago and in the EHF Cup last season, the Bitola-based club will now make their debut in the VELUX EHF Champions League and also be part of the regional SEHA League.
Only eight years after they were founded, the Macedonian club has quickly risen to the top. They finished runners-up to Vardar HC in the domestic league and have appeared in the national cup final.
Now the club makes a whole city proud, as EHF Champions League handball is returning to Bitola after 14 years.
Three questions before the new season:
- Can the team benefit from Stevche Alushovski’s experience?
In February 2019 head coach Djordje Cirkovic left the club and former winger Stevche Alushovski took over at the helm. His coaching experience so far might be limited to two years, but Alushovski can build on his outstanding playing career as one of the legends of the Macedonian national team with more than 900 goals. He also played in the EHF Champions League.
- How will the team cope without last’s season best scorers Kuzmanovski?
One of the most productive players from last season, Filip Kuzmanovski, has left the club, but Eurofarm Rabotnik have been very active on the transfer market and are bringing in eight new players. It will undoubtedly bring many changes to the line-up on court, but the team will gain experience and there is no reason why the newcomers would not integrate smoothly into the new playing system.
- How do they rate among their Group C opponents?
The draw propelled Eurofarm Rabotnik in a group with IK Sävehof, Tatran Preshov, Cocks, Bidasoa Irun and Sporting CP. “All the teams are very strong and some of the clubs are with big traditions and some are similar to us with lot of new power, enthusiasm and motivation,” says head coach Stevce Alushovski. “I hope that all home matches will be played in a full arenas and that it will be a big advantage for us.”
Under the spotlight: Nikola Mitrevski
After four years abroad, the national team goalkeeper is returning to North Macedonia. He played for Pelister, Vardar and Metalurg before gaining international experience with Benfica in Portugal and HC Dobrogea Sud in Romania since 2015. With his arrival, Eurofarm Rabotnik are gaining a lot of stability between the posts, which will enforce the defence.
The hunger for success doesn’t stop here as the team aims to reach the Last 16 in the VELUX EHF Champions League and will fight for the domestic title with Vardar. “We are a new club in the Champions League, but we have experienced players in the roster. I am sure that Eurofarm Rabotnik will be difficult opponent for everyone. I hope we can be competitive and we will finish the group phase with victories,” says Alushovski. “We should also not forget that this is a historic year for the club and this season’s participation in the VELUX EHF Champions League and SEHA League is like a dream come true for the club and the fans.”
Eurofarm Rabotnik joined the Macedonian Super League only in the 2016/17 season and already after three seasons managed to reach the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase, keeping regular participants HC Metalurg out of this competition.
What the numbers say
It’s been 14 seasons since the last EHF Champions League match took place in Bitola: city rivals RK Pelister played in the group phase of the 2005/06 season.
HC Eurofarm Rabotnik (MKD)
Newcomers: Bojan Madzovski (Metalurg), Nikola Mitrevski (Dobrogea Sud), Martin Velkovski (Metalurg), Anze Ratajac (SC Ferlah), Lovro Jotic (PPD Zagreb), Marin Vegar (Steaua), Oleksandr Shevelev (Motor)
Left the club: Filip Kuzmanovski (Magdeburg), Goran Krstevski (Linz), Dejan Pecakovski (Metalurg), Faruk Memic (retired)
Head coach: Stevce Alushovski (since February 2019)
Team captain: Goce Ojleski
VELUX EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2019/2020 season): 1
Other EC records:
Group Phase: 2018/2019
Last 16: 2017/18