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24.08.2017, 14:00
Machulla looking to fill Vranjes' shoes at Flensburg
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VELUX EHF Champions League countdown: The new management at SG Flensburg-Handewitt hope that 13 is not an unlucky number, as they lead the German club into their 13th EHF Champions League appearance.
 

Machulla looking to fill Vranjes' shoes at Flensburg

New SG Flensburg-Handewitt coach Maik Machulla will be tasked with integrating the team's Scandinavian young guns into the team this season. Machulla will be backed-up by co-coach Mark Bult and the pair replace Ljubomir Vranjes, who left to join Veszprem after 11 years at the German club in different functions - first a player, then sport director and later as coach.

Three questions before the new season

Will Maik Machulla manage to fill in Ljubo’s shoes?

Previously Maik Machulla was a player and assistant coach under Ljubormir Vranjes. He knows the club well, and is integrated at all levels - both on-court and off-court - at Flensburg. When the management chose the former Magdeburg player to replace Vranjes, they gave him extensive power at the club. Now they hope that the new coach can continue the success of his predecessor.

Are there enough young new arrivals to replace experienced players such as Eggert, Djordjic or Jakobsson?

Some voids will be huge, on and off the court. Anders Eggert particularly was a key figure for the club in all departments. However, SG have proved in previous decades that their close relationship with Scandinavian clubs, and their in-depth knowledge of Danish, Swedish and Norwegian leagues, are a major advantage. Magnus Rød for example was hunted by half of Europe, but he knew that Flensburg had always been a great place for Norwegians.

Will SG start their transition already this season, as more big names will leave after it?

Flensburg already know that Mattias Andersson (end of career), Thomas Mogensen (Skjern) and Kentin Mahe (Veszprem) will leave the club next summer. However, plans on how to re-build the team are already being formed, as the signing of Norwegian goalkeeper Torbjørn Bergerud shows. Flensburg, like Kiel, have always planned long-term, so Machulla and Bult will start the transition to the new guns already this season.

Under spotlight: Maik Machulla

All eyes will be on him. “Everybody knows that the new players and the new coaching team will have to adapt, but it is our great objective to fight for titles," said Machulla at he start of the season. It is the first major head coach position for Machulla. He knows how to stand the heat but, of course, in the end it is only success that counts.

Self-esteem

As goalkeeper Kevin Møller is ruled out for several months after adductor surgery, SG signed Dane Rasmus Lind as his replacement but in general the squad is smaller. “We are part of the EHF Champions League for the 13th time and we always have the approach to make the best of it. We face the best European teams, and it is the first goal to proceed to the Last16,” says manager Dierk Schmäschke.

“It is our objective to develop as a team and go as far as possible in all competitions,” adds Machulla.

For team captain Tobias Karlsson, Flensburg can make it to the quarter-finals again. "We know most of our group phase very well and we are looking forward to facing the best players of the world and hopefully beating them.”

Fun fact

For the fifth straight season, SG Flensburg-Handewitt face local rivals THW Kiel in the Champions League. In the 2013/14 season, Flensburg defeated Kiel in the final to lift their sole Champions League trophy to date. In 2014/15 Kiel knocked out SG in the Last16, where as in both 2015/16 and 2016/17 they met in the group phase, as they will do again this season.

What the numbers say

Flensburg have qualified for the knock-out stage of the EHF Champions League in 11 of 12 attempts so far. Only in the 2007/08 season did they miss out. They are only one of 13 different Champions League winners, but the only club to have won all four EHF European Cup competitions at least once - Champions League (2014), EHF Cup (1997), Cup Winners’ Cup (2001, 2012) and the former City Cup (1999).

SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER)

Qualification for the 2017/18 VELUX EHF Champions League season: second place in German league

Newcomers: Rasmus Lind (TTH Holstebro), Simon Jeppsson (Lugi Lund), Marius Steinhauser (Rhein-Neckar Löwen), Magnus Rød (Bækkelaget Håndball Elite)

Left the club: Ljubomir Vranjes (Telekom Veszprém), Anders Eggert (Skjern Håndbold), Bogdan Radivojevic (Rhein-Neckar Löwen), Petar Djordjic (Brest HC Meshkov), Johan Jakobsson (IK Sävehof)

Coach: Maik Machulla and Mark Bult (since 2017, successor of Ljubomir Vranjes)

Team captain: Tobias Karlsson

VELUX EHF Champions League records:

Participations (including 2017/18 season): 13

Winner: 2013/14

Final (2): 2003/04, 2006/07

Semi-final (1): 2005/06

Quarter-final (6): 2004/05, 2008/09, 2010/11, 2012/13, 2015/16, 2016/17

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 league:
One title (2004)

German Cup:
Four titles: (2003, 2004, 2005, 2015)


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ap
 
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