Seven young players who can make their mark

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EHF / Adrian Costeiu

Identifying a young player who can flourish can be key to developing a better team. It happened time and time again, with players like Nóemi Háfra or Tjasa Stanko making their marks in the past seasons as the All-star young player in the EHF Champions League Women before becoming mainstays in their sides.

More recently, Henny Reistad, Pauletta Foppa and Katrin Klujber lit up the competition, helping their teams secure good results in the European premium competition.

Ahead of the new season, here are some of the up-and-coming stars who will shine in the Champions League this year.

Charlotte Cholevová

Last season, Czech left back Markéta Jerábková was named the MVP of the EHF FINAL4 after lifting Vipers Kristiansand to the trophy. A player who is following in her footsteps is DHK Banik Most’s Charlotte Cholevová, the second goal scorer at the W19 EHF EURO 2021 with 55 goals, and the top scorer at the 2022 IHF Women’s Junior World Championship, where she scored 62 times.

Cholevová is both a strong shooter and a player with a great handball IQ, being able to be slotted in each of the three back positions of the court. Efficient on penalties, Cholevová can prove an instant hit for DHK Banik Most – and follow in the footsteps of alumna Jerábková, who also started out at the Czech side.

Sarah Bouktit

This will be the third consecutive season in the EHF Champions League Women for Bouktit, a strong line player both in attack and in defence for Metz Handball. Bouktit has already proven her worth for the French champions last season, scoring 46 goals and helping Metz return to the EHF FINAL4.

A good defender and getting more and more difficult to stop in attack by the defences she faces, Bouktit was integral to France women’s junior team, which finished 13th at the 2022 IHF Women’s Junior World Championship, and was just short of making the top eight. Bouktit scored 31 goals in the competition, being France’s top scorer.

Nadja Kadovic

Montenegro have a long tradition of creating excellent wings – Jovanka Radicevic, Majda Mehmedovic and Maja Savic being just a few examples. WHC Buducnost BEMAX’s Nadja Kadovic might just be next.

Kadovic is just 19 years old and despite being tall for a wing at 180cm, she has good speed, is excellent on fast breaks and has a very safe pair of hands, even in the toughest of conditions.

Kadovic had a strong outing at the 2022 IHF Women’s Junior World Championship, finishing fourth in the top goal scorer standings, with 50 goals from 65 shots. That outstanding 77 per cent shot efficiency was the best of the top nine scorers in the competition. She has already scored eight goals in the past two seasons of the Champions League, and her experience will undoubtedly help her in the current season.

20220907 CLW Young Players Nadja Kadovic

Valentina Klemencic

At the 2022 IHF Women’s Junior World Championship Slovenia disappointed on home court, finishing only 14th in the standings. However, two or three of their players really stood out – chief among them Krim Mercator Ljubljana line player Valentina Klemencic. The 20-year-old is already experienced in the European top competition, scoring 69 goals in three seasons, but remains an unpolished diamond.

With a strong frame, Klemencic is the prototype for a good defender, but still lacks discipline at times with a tendency to pick up suspensions. Nevertheless, she has already made her debut in Slovenia’s senior team, and is expected to make a big leap this season.

Anna Kukely

At junior level, Anna Kukely has already made her mark. The 19-year-old centre back won gold at the W19 EHF EURO 2021 and silver at the 2022 IHF Women’s Junior World Championship with a star-studded Hungary team, which dominated both competitions until the final of the latter, where they lost to Norway.

Kukely scored 23 goals at the world championships and her potential helped her sign for FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria, where she will make her Champions League debut this season. With plenty of experience in a balanced Hungarian league, Kukely can shine for FTC this season, as a golden generation comes of age for Hungary.

Susanne Amundsen

Six of Susanne Amundsen’s 20 goals at the 2022 IHF Women’s Junior World Championship came in the final of the competition, won 31:29 by Norway against Hungary. A pacy winger, who can punish the defence on fast breaks, Amundsen has a great future ahead of her. She makes her Champions League debut after scoring four goals in two seasons for Storhamar Handball Elite in the EHF European League Women.

She missed only six of her 26 shots in the world championship this July, boasting a superb 76.9 per cent shooting efficiency, which can prove crucial on the biggest of stages.

Gordana Marsenic

Montenegro finished 10th place at Slovenia 2022, with a win against France and strong outings against Denmark and Norway, and their captain, Gordana Marsenic, was crucial in those matches. Buducnost centre back Marsenic was not Montenegro’s top scorer, but had the largest number of assists in the team – 26, only three shy of the leader in the standings.

Marsenic was also an integral part of Montenegro’s defence and Buducnost’s coach, Bojana Popovic, knows a thing or two about how to nurture a young back and create one of the best players in that position.

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