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20.03.2013, 19:10
Congratulations are in order, Tiselj says
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It was one of the hardest periods of his coaching career at the start of the season, but Tone Tiselj is now looking forward to brighter times now
 

Congratulations are in order, Tiselj says

Krim Mercator is back. Seven years after the heartbreaking final against Viborg the two-times EHF Champions League winners from Slovenia are again in the top four. An achievement that at the beginning of season seemed nearly impossible.

"It is quite a feat," says Tone Tiselj, 52-year old coach of the Ljubljana outfit who came back in 2011 for his second spell at Krim. "All things considered, congratulations are in order. To the players, to the management and to the fans."

And he really means it — not many teams would have survived the ordeals his squad went through even before the first throw-off in the new European season.

Krim began preparations for a new campaign with a substantially altered roster. Kristina Bille, Andrea Šerić, Gorica Ačimović and Kristina Franić left the club to be replaced by a versatile bunch of newcomers: Linnea Torstenson, Daniela Piedade, Nina Wörz, Susan Müller, and Carmen Martin — to name a few.

Coach Tiselj's priority was making a homogenous unit out of this motley crew of players from all European handball styles, but that proved not to be his biggest challenge.

"The fallout from the Olympic Games was terrible for us. Penezić, Torstenson, Martin and Bodnieva were all out injured," explains Tiselj.

Then disaster struck on 29 September. During a friendly match Wörz broke her thumb and Piedade suffered a stroke. "It was a very difficult time. We were worried sick about Piedade, but had to carry on training. How do you do that, when half of your team is missing? It was one of the hardest periods of my coaching career. All we could do was improvise." As if this was not enough, Müller also sufferd a knee injury in the process.

Drastic times call for drastic measures, so Krim had to look outside of the box. Or in this case outside of mainstream medicine. "It was a first for me, but being out of other options we tried an alternative approach. I do not know how, but it worked." The absence of some key players had to be felt on the field. Krim struggled in Group B and reached the main round through the eye of a needle, beating Podravka on aggregate with a single goal.

But four months later Daniela Piedade is miraculously playing again and Krim sits at the top of Group 2, the goal difference again proving to be decisive in their contest with the Romanian champions Oltchim Vâlcea.

"All the strife has strenghtened the ties within the team. Time also allowed for certain injuries to heal and lately we were able to have a somewhat normal training process. We still have a lot of work to do, but I try to convey my philosophy to the girls. Every match is a new story, and in order to be great, we have to work harder than the rest," says Tiselj who is now preparing his troops for the semi-final showdown with Larvik.

Albeit again without Torstenson who has a broken finger.

"In the last years Larvik was always on or near the top of Europe," Tiselj thinks highly of the opponents.

"Norwegian players have won accolades in all of the world's most prestigious competitions. I can safely say that they are the clear favourites. I have some old friends there — Tonje Larsen, Lene Rantala, Linn-Kristin Koren Riegelhuth, coach Ole Gustav Gjekstad while Cecilie Leganger and Kristina Bille Hansen used to play for Krim, so I am very much looking forward to this duel.

"We will try to focus on our strenghts and hopefully injuries will leave us alone, so we can prove our worth."

Further information
Find the semi-finals schedule of the Women´s EHF Champions League here
 


TEXT: Grega Sever / br
 
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