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08.09.2015, 15:10
The 200th international match in sight
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VELUX EHF Champions League club countdown: 8 days to go - KIF Kolding Kobenhavn (DEN)
 

The 200th international match in sight

Since the start of European Cup competitions under the umbrella of the EHF in 1993, KIF Kolding only missed two seasons and played 188 matches so far, and are the most experienced Scandinavian participant of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

For the 13th time the team of head coach Henrik Kronborg is part of the flagship competition highlighted by a semi-final appearance in 2002.

For the upcoming season, the goal is to finish among the eight best teams - after a surprising elimination in the previous season against Croatian record champions Zagreb in the Last 16.

Only in the 1994/95 season did the club fail to make it out of the Group Phase and since then they have had a consistent streak of making it past this initial stage - and this is something they hope to continue.

On domestic ground, KIF again proved their dominance by becoming Danish champions for the 14th time and - right before the start of the season - they took the Danish Supercup beating Champions League participant Skjern.

The only major changes in the squad were in the back court positions: Left back Lasse Boesen ended his active career and becomes club manager like his father had been before. Swedish right back Kim Anderson transferred to his home club Ystad after a long-term shoulder injury.

His successor is one of only two non-Scandinavian players on the team: Russian Konstantin Igropoulo. The left handed shooter arrives from German side Füchse Berlin, where he completed his individual cabinet of trophies by winning the EHF Cup in May after he had won the Cup Winners’ Cup with Chekhovskie Medvedi and the VELUX EHF Champions League with FC Barcelona.

The well-rehearsed and experienced squad make Lasse Boesen feel confident ahead of the new VELUX EHF Champions League season, in which KIF will face defending champions Barcelona, Kielce, Vardar, Rhein Neckar Löwen, Szeged, Kristianstad and Montpellier in Group B:

“It is our clear goal to qualify for the knock-out stages. It is a tough challenge, as those opponents require a higher level on the court. But as it is our ambition to even make it to the quarter-finals we know what we have to expect from ourselves.”

Team captain and legendary goalkeeper Kasper Hvidt remains humble in terms of goals: “In the previous two years we played well in the Group Phase but then were too weak in the Last 16. So first  we have to focus on the group matches in order to get the best possible ranking for the knock-out stage. And from the past we know that defence is the key for us, but we all have the experience and know to play.”

In general, Hvidt is excited about those 14 top matches ahead in the Group Phase: “Though the new system in some ways is hard to explain, it is great for us. Those games are the reason, why we all play handball and train hard. Barcelona are the main favourite, but then everything can happen among the rest of the group. I guess a position between 3 and 6 is a realistic goal - but of course it is one of my dreams to skip the Last 16 by becoming group winner.”

Also due to off-court reasons, Lasse Boesen is eager to continue the long tradition of being part of the Champions League in future: “It is the dream of every player to compete in the Champions League. KIF have the clear goal to duel with the best European teams every year, and the opportunity to play against the best handball stars in the world.”

Players, administration, sponsors and fans - will celebrate the 200th international match for KIF in February: the home match against Montpellier marks the event. Before this, Kolding will have even more handball highlights, as the newly reconstructed arena will host matches of the Women’s World Championship up to the quarter-final in December.


KIF Kolding Kobenhavn (DEN)

Qualification for the 2015/2016 VELUX EHF Champions League season: Danish champions

Newcomers:  Konstantin Igropulo (Berlin)

Left the club:  Lasse Boesen (end his carrier) and Kim Andersson (Ystad)

Coach: Henrik Kronborg since 2013, ass. Coach Bilal Suman since 2013

Opponents in the group phase: Barcelona, Kielce, Vardar, Szeged, Löwen, Kristianstad, Montpellier in Group B

VELUX EHF Champions League records:

Participations (including 2015/2016 season): 13
Semi Final (1): 2001/02
Quarter-Final (1): 2002/03
Last 16 (8): 2003/04, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2013/14, 2014/15
Last 32 (1): 1993/94
Group Phase (1): 1994/95

Other EC records:

Cup Winners’ Cup:
Semi-finalist 1999/200
Quarter-finalist 2007/08

EHF Cup:
Quarter-finalist 2012/13

Danish champion: 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2014, 2015
Danish Cup winner: 1989, 1993, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2014


TEXT: Björn Pazen / bc
 
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