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24.01.2018, 09:20
Hosts hope for happy ending on home court
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Men's EHF Cup countdown #2: SC Magdeburg (GER). Hosting the finals, the most successful club from Eastern Germany want to go a step further than last season, when they lost in the semi-finals
 

Hosts hope for happy ending on home court

When the EHF announced its decision in December, happiness was huge in Magdeburg: the EHF Champions League winners in 2002 will host the EHF Cup Finals on 19-20 May 2018.

After Berlin (2014 and 2015) and Göppingen (2017), the final tournament will be held in Germany for the fourth time. And Magdeburg hope to go all the way, just like Göppingen did when they took the title on home court last season.

SC Magdeburg, by far the most successful Eastern German club since the reunification, hope to raise their fourth EHF Cup trophy. They won the title under the old format of the competition in 1999, 2001 and 2007.

And, like all previous EHF Cup Finals hosts, they have an advantage. If they win their group or finish among the three best second-ranked teams, they will advance directly to the finals. In that case, only three quarter-finals will be played.

Last season, Magdeburg were part of the EHF Cup Finals for the first time. They lost their semi-final against eventual winners and hosts Göppingen, and finished third after beating Saint-Raphael in a penalty shoot-out.

The hurdles on their way to the top position in Group C are quite high.

“We have a very demanding group facing Silkeborg, Minsk and Presov,” coach Bennet Wiegert says. “I expect exciting and balanced matches. Silkeborg gained a lot of experience on international level in previous years, just like Presov. Minsk is difficult to access. Our first goal is to qualify for the next round.”

Magdeburg made it only just to the group phase. In the last qualifying round, former Romanian champions Constanta missed out on a huge sensation by a single goal after they beat Magdeburg 27:26 following a two-goal loss (27:25) in Germany.

“It is always something special for us to be competing on international level and to be part of the group phase,” Wiegert says.

The squad has slightly changed, mainly in defence. German EHF EURO champion Finn Lemke moved to Melsungen and Dutch defence ace Fabian van Olphen now plays for Lemgo.

On the other hand, two players with Champions League experience - Polish international Piotr Chrapkowsi and Russian international Gleb Kalarash - have joined the club, raising the number of different nationalities in the squad to 11.

Coach Wiegert expects a strong and balanced competition. Without singling out a single club, he believes that “for sure, the French, Danish and German teams are favourites.”

SC Magdeburg (GER)

Qualification for the EHF Cup Group Phase 2017/18: Round 3: 27:25, 26:27 against Constanta (ROU)

Newcomers: Gleb Kalarash (HC Motor Zaporozhye), Piotr Chrapkowski (KS Kielce), Lukas Mertens (Wilhelmshavener HV), Carlos Molina Cosano (Naturhouse La Rioja), Juan Munoz de la Pena Morales (B.M Carabanchel)

Left the club: Finn Lemke (MT Melsungen), Fabian van Olphen (TBV Lemgo), Jakob Bagersted (Frisch Auf Göppingen), Yves Grafenhorst (end of career)

Coach: Bennet Wiegert (since December 2015)

Team captain: Christian O´Sullivan

Opponents in the group matches: Minsk, Bjerringbro and Presov in Group A

EHF Champions League records:
Winners: 2001/02
Semi-finalists: 2003/04
Quarter-finalists: 2002/03
Last 16 2005/06

Other European Cup records:

EHF Cup:
Winners: 1998/99, 2000/01, 2006/07
Runners-up: 2004/05
Semi-finalists: 2011/12, 2016/17 (ranked third)
Quarter-finalists: 2012/13
Last 16: 2008/09

EHF Cup Winners’ Cup:
Semi-finalists: 1996/97
Quarter-finalists: 2007/08

Champions Cup (forerunner of Champions League):
Winners: 1978, 1981

EHF Champions Trophy:
Winners: 1981, 2001, 2002

German champions (11): 2001 (GDR league: 1970, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1991)

German cup winners (7): 1996, 2016 (GDR cup: 1970, 1977, 1978, 1984, 1990)


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ew
 
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