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12.09.2015, 16:30
Vranjes strengthens the back court
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VELUX EHF Champions League club countdown: 4 days to go - SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER)
 

Vranjes strengthens the back court

It was the biggest “flensation” in the history of the VELUX EHF Champions League, when SG Flensburg-Handewitt took the trophy at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in 2014 after beating Kiel and Barcelona in Cologne.



In the previous season, the team of head coach Ljubomir Vranjes was hit hard by a series of long-term injuries and was eliminated by their Northern German rival THW Kiel in the Last 16.

Before the season throws off, Flensburg have seen changes in their squad with some skilled signings putting pen to paper, and now are among the favourites in all competitions again.

“Flensburg are stronger than us this season,” Kiel coach Alfred Gislason said, even though his team beat Flensburg in the German Super Cup 27:26 in the middle of August.

Four top players - mainly for the back court positions - joined Flensburg prior to the new season, and the 25th anniversary of the club: Rasmus Lauge (Kiel) and the former Hamburg trio Henrik Toft Hansen, Kentin Mahe (MVP of the EHF Cup Finals) and Petar Djordjic.

As Lars Kaufmann (to EHF Cup participant Göppingen) and Drasko Nenadic (to Hamburg) are the only big names to leave and as they are currently not suffering from major injuries, Flensburg can rely on an impressive roster.

“Our philosophy in all competitions is quite easy: we want to win all games,” Vranjes (IHF World coach of the year 2014) looks ahead to the upcoming season.

Vranjes showed his commitment to the club by signing a new contract to keep in at SG until 2020.

In the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase Flensburg again will face Kiel (as in the two previous seasons), and also 2015 finalist Veszprem, Paris, Plock, Zagreb, Celje and Besiktas.

“All the teams are strong, but Kiel, Paris and Veszprem are the favourites to win the group,” says manager Dierk Schmäschke: “Everyone in Flensburg is looking forward to the Group Phase this season. Our goal in the VELUX EHF Champions League - like in all domestic competitions - is clearly set: to go all the way.”

Team captain and defence specialist Tobias Karlsson commented: “We want to build a good base for the Last 16 from our group - and then hopefully proceed to the quarter-finals. But straight away we are coming up against huge names - with no exception. My personal favourites are Paris and Veszprem. We are really looking forward to 14 top matches.”

So Flensburg expects a very special eleventh participation in the VELUX EHF Champions League, which starts with matches against PSG, Veszprem and Kiel: “This competition is a high-class product with the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne at the climax. It is the objective of every club to reach this event, and now we have the chance again. To be part of the Champions League is important for the reputation of every club as well,” Schmäschke says.

SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER)

Qualification for the 2015/2016 VELUX EHF Champions League season: Third ranked in Germany

Newcomers:  Kentin Mahe, Henrik Toft Hansen, Petar Djordjic (all HSV Hamburg), Rasmus Lauge Schmidt (THW Kiel)

Left the club:  Jakob Macke (ASV Hamm-Westfalen), Ahmed Elahmar (El-Zamalek/EGY), Lars Kaufmann (Frisch Auf! Göppingen), Drasko Nenadic (HSV Handball)

Coach: Ljubomir Vranjes (since 2010)

Opponents in Group Phase: Kiel, Veszprem, PSG, Celje, Plock, Zagreb, Besiktas in Group A

VELUX EHF Champions League records:

Participations (including 2015/2016 season): 11
Winner: 2013/14
Final (2): 2003/04, 2006/07
Semi Final (1): 2005/06
Quarter Final (4): 2004/05, 2008/09, 2010/11, 2012/13
Last 16 (1): 2014/15
Main Round (1): 2007/08

Other EC records:

Cup Winners Cup:
Winner 2000/01 2011/12

EHF Cup:
Winner: 1996/97

City Cup:
Winner 1998/99

German champion: 2004

German Cup winner: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2015

German Supercup winner 2000, 2013


TEXT: Björn Pazen / bc
 
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