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25.08.2017, 15:00
A family reunion and a boost of quality for Kielce
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VELUX EHF Champions League countdown: Kielce coach Talant Dujshebaev has made it a family affair in Poland, with the aim of improving on last season's Last 16 exit.
 

A family reunion and a boost of quality for Kielce

Last season, KS Vive Tauron Kielce shared the fate of previous reigning VELUX EHF Champions League champions Hamburg and Flensburg, when they failed to make it beyond the Last 16. Now the team of head coach Talant Dujshebaev has added new blood, including Talant's son Alex and Slovenian prodigy Blaz Janc.

Three questions before the new season

How will the Dujshebaev family business work?

Two of the three Dujshebaevs are united, and the missing piece – U21 world champion Dani – will arrive in two years once he has served his apprenticeship at Celje. The expectations are huge, as Alex was a top star in Vardar's Champions League-winning side last year. His father is under a certain amount of pressure, after failing in the Champions League last year and resigning as Poland national team coach. However, the mixture of a mastermind on the bench and his son on the court will boost the team.

Will the transition work?

The Kielce team have quite a high average age, with players such as Bielecki, Lijewski, Szmal and Jurecki far beyond the 30 years of age mark, so now the Polish side start the next part of their transition with younger players like Dujshebaev and Janc. Other top talents have also been contracted by Kielce but will play at other sides on loan this season, in order to learn and to gain experience. The team will need a lot of fresh blood in the coming seasons.

After failing in the Last 16 last season – can Kielce make it to Cologne?

Kielce have qualified three times for the VELUX EHF FINAL4, including winning the trophy in 2016, but this year have been drawn in a challenging group. They have the ambition, and they have a squad capable of going all the way. As usual, the home matches will be crucial for the Polish champions, as in previous years they have been shaky in away matches against top teams.

Under spotlight: Blaz Janc

The 2014 Youth Olympic Games winner was THE rising star of the previous season. At the age of 20, he was the top scorer of the SEHA Liga and the second best scorer in the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase. He was Europe’s most wanted and it was Kielce who grabbed the chance earlier than expected, as Janc was believed to be arriving in Poland later in his career. His signing means he will replace 2016 EHF EURO champion Tobias Reichmann, who returned to Germany.

Self-esteem

In Polish competitions, Kielce will – as usual – duel with Plock for the trophies but Kielce are in a class of their own in Poland, so the focus is on the VELUX EHF Champions League. However, facing Veszprem, PSG, Kiel and Flensburg in the group phase means that Kielce might miss out on the top three, which could mean they meet an even tougher opponent in the Last16. "This group consists only of great teams, but we will – like at least three other teams – fight for the top position until the last round. Cologne is our goal again, therefore we need to be 100 per cent ready for every match," says team captain Michal Jurecki.

 

 

 

Fun fact

Talant Dujshebaev is only the second coach (after Alfred Gislason) to win the VELUX EHF Champions League with two different clubs - Ciudad Real (2006, 2008, 2009) and Kielce (2016). Also, he is the only man in handball to win the Champions League both as a player (in 1994 with Santander) and as a coach. Now it is his dream to become the first coach to win the Champions League with his son in at the same club.

What the numbers say

Since their return to the competition, Kielce did not win a Champions League away match at any German club, although they have defeated Kiel in two placement matches at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne. Regardless of the city (Mannheim, Kiel, Flensburg, Berlin) or the stage, their best result has been a draw. This season Kielce will have two opportunities to banish the unwanted record, when they meet Flensburg and Kiel in the group stage.

KS Vive Tauron Kielce (POL)

Qualification for the 2017/2018 VELUX EHF Champions League season: Polish champions

Newcomers: Blaz Janc (Celje Pivovarna Lasko), Marko Mamić (Dunkerque HB), Alex Dujshebaev (Vardar Skopje), Szymon Sićko (SPR Chrobry Głogów), Daniel Dujshebaev (Valladolid)

Left the club:  Tobias Reichmann (MT Melsungen), Piotr Chrapkowski (SC Magdeburg), Paweł Paczkowski (Motor Zaporzhye, on Ioan), Paweł Walczak (Messy Handball, on Ioan), Daniel Dujshebaev (Celje Pivovarna Lasko, on Ioan), Branko Vujović (Celje Pivovarna Lasko, on Ioan), Szymon Sićko (TV Hüttenberg, on Ioan)

Coach: Talant Dujshebaev (since January 2014)

Team captain: Michal Jurecki

VELUX EHF Champions League records:

Participations (including 2017/2018 season): 15

Winner (1): 2015/16

Semi Final (2): 2012/13, 2014/2015 (both times ranked third)

Last 16 (6): 1993/94, 1994/95, 2009/10, 2011/12, 2013/14, 2016/17

Last 32 (2): 1996/97, 1998/99

Group Phase (3): 1999/2000, 2003/04, 2010/11

Other EC records:

11 participations in other ECs

Polish league:
14 titles (1993, 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

Polish Cup:
14 titles (1985, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ap
 
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