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01.04.2015, 20:00
Out to make history, but hit by injuries
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NEWS FEATURE: Thüringer HC will have to replace Nadgornaja, Frey and Krause in their quarter-finals against Larvik
 

Out to make history, but hit by injuries

"It is simply a miracle that we came this far," Herbert Müller is still surprised and impressed with his team.

The coach of German champions Thüringer HC was floored by the draw for the group matches of the Women’s EHF Champions League after is forced his side to face two teams which had been part of the 2014 MVM EHF FINAL4 in Budapest – finalist Buducnost and third ranked team Vardar Skopje.

But THC made it to the main round including a final win over Vardar. "When we had entered the second stage, our new goal was to reach the quarter-finals," Müller said. Eventually, being among the top eight, like last season, came true.

Thüringer HC kept their dominant role in German handball beating their local rivals HC Leipzig twice and adding a total of nine points in the main ound.

"No one could expect that, finally we were level on points with Vardar and Dinamo. My players truly impressed me," claimed Müller.

In the end, a home defeat against Dinamo was the reason why the German side finished fourth instead of second, which would have meant an easier opponent in the quarter-finals.

Now they have to face the most dominant team of the competition: Larvik HK. The Norwegians won all their twelve Champions League matches to date and were the only ones to beat defending champions Györ.

"We are the underdogs," said shooter Nadja Nadgornaja. Unfortunately for her and her team she will miss at least the first leg of the quarter-finals on home court this Saturday (14:00 hrs. local time, live on www.ehfTV.com). Nadgornaja was injured when playing the Carpat Trophy in Romania with the German national team.

In addition to the left back, Austrian left wing Sonja Frey and goalkeeper Jana Krause are out for the duels against Larvik. "The injuries really hit us hard, not only because of the Champions League, but all competitions," team manager Maik Schenk said.

After a sensational unbeaten record of 31 wins and one draw in the previous Bundesliga season, Thüringer HC are currently in second place, one point below Buxtehuder SV. In addition, THC have qualified for the final tournament of the German cup.

"We are hungry in all competitions, but the match against Larvik is certainly something very special," admitted Müller, who hopes that his team can put up a brave performance against the Norwegians.

One year ago they already had the fate of qualifying for the first MVM EHF FINAL4 in their hands: But THC missed two crucial chances in the dying minute of their home match against Vardar Skopje to tie with the Macedonians, then lost their final main round match against Midtjylland and thus missed the ticket to Budapest by the narrowest of margins.

Thüringer HC expect a full arena and great support of their fans against the 2011 Champions League winner.

"We are obliged to our fans to fight until the last second," says Müller, who’s team will undergo some changes for the next season: So far Austrian international Beate Scheffknecht is the only newcomer. German international Franziska Mietzner will transfer to Leipzig and wing Katrin Engel is set to leave leave the club as well.

If Thüringer HC could manage another sensation and eliminate Larvik, they would make history by becoming the first German team to qualify for a semi-final of the competition.
 


TEXT: Björn Pazen / me
 
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