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30.01.2018, 14:50
'Foxes' eye fourth EHF Cup Finals berth
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EHF Cup countdown #7: Füchse Berlin (GER). The 2015 champions from Germany are among the title favourites once again but will first have to overcome a challenging group
 

'Foxes' eye fourth EHF Cup Finals berth

During six years of participation in European club competitions, Füchse Berlin have made it to the finals’ event four times.

They have done it three times in the Men’s EHF Cup. In 2014 (third) and 2015 (champions), the ‘Foxes’ hosted the event in Berlin; in 2017 (finalists) they lost to hosts Frisch Auf Göppingen.

Füchse also qualified for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 as debutant in the competition in 2011. And twice they won the IHF Super Globe, in 2015 and 2016.

In qualification for the EHF Cup Group Phase, Berlin did not have any problems and eliminated former Champions League participant FC Porto by 63:52 on aggregate.

Now they will face Saint-Raphael, Anaitasuna and Lugi Lund in Group B. Special focus will be on Saint-Raphael as they faced the French side three times last season: twice in the group phase and again in the semi-final, which Berlin won.

“Maybe it is a good omen to play against Saint-Raphael again as we want to go all the way to the EHF Cup Finals and even the final again,” coach Velimir Petkovic says.

Petkovic is confident his team can finish on top of this group, but says: “We have to face really strong opponents, so the group phase will not be that easy.”

Two core players will not be part of Füchse for the group phase: Serbian international Petar Nenadic moved to Veszprém in the winter break (and has been replaced by Zagreb’s Stipe Mandalinic) while German international Paul Drux is out for at least three months after injuring his right knee at the EHF EURO in Croatia.

At the EHF EURO, Füchse were the only EHF Cup participants with a player in the All-star Team as Jakov Gojun of Croatia was named best defender. Swedish right wing Mattias Zachrisson returned with a silver medal but the German and Croatian players were rather disappointed after missing out on the semi-finals.

But still, Petkovic is looking forward to open the group phase with the first match against Saint-Raphael on 7 February: “We like to be part of the EHF Cup as it represents European top handball on the highest level. But to be honest, I would not be unhappy if we make it to the Champions League next season.”

As many top teams are part of the group phase, Petkovic can’t predict a favourite for the trophy: “The quality has increased enormously in the last years. The top is wider than ever.”

Füchse have been preparing for the future on and off the court: Paul Drux, Fabian Wiede and Christoph Reißky have extended their contracts to 2022, last season’s EHF Cup top scorer Hans Lindberg will play for Berlin until he turns 40 in 2021. Also, manager Bob Hanning has renewed his contract until 2023, sports director Volker Zerbe until 2022.

Goalkeeper and team captain Petr Stochl (41) will end his career after this season. His successor will be Malte Semisch from Hannover-Burgdorf. Also VELUX EHF Champions League winner Mijajlo Marsenic will arrive from Vardar Skopje.

However, Berlin will first focus on reaching the EHF Cup Finals in Magdeburg.

Füchse Berlin (GER)

Qualification for the EHF Cup Group Phase 2017/18: Round 3: 30:27, 33:25 against FGC Porto (POR)

Newcomers: Stipe Mandalinic (RK Zagreb, December 2017), Erik Schmidt (TSV Hannover-Burgdorf), Marko Kopljar (Telekom Veszprém), Frederik Genz (TSV Bayer Dormagen), Frederik Simak (youth team)

Left the club: Petar Nenadic (Veszprém, January 2018), Kresimir Kozina (Frisch Auf Göppingen), Kent-Robin Tönnesen (Veszprém), Mark Ferjan (Emsdetten)

Coach: Velimir Petkovic (since December 2016)

Team captain: Petr Stochl

Opponents in the group matches: Saint-Raphael, Anaitasuna, Lugi in Group B

EHF Champions League records:
FINAL4: 2011/12 (fourth)
Last 16: 2012/13

Other European Cup records:

EHF Cup:
Winners: 2014/15
Finalists: 2016/17
Finals: 2013/14 (third)

IHF Super Globe:
Winners: 2015, 2016

German champions: -
German cup winners: 2014


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ew
 
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