Slovakian international explains the EHF Champions League boom at surprise team Thüringer HC.
Jakubisová: Put the pedal to the metal
German champions Thüringer HC are one of the biggest surprises in this season’s Women’s EHF Champions League. After failing to win any match in the 2011/12 season, they started brilliantly by beating former EHF Champions League winners Viborg HK and current defending champions Budućnost Podgorica on home soil.
Despite defeat in their away match at Zvezda, the Germans were on level terms for most of the match.
With four points in their account they are in the race to qualify for the Main Round. One of the keys to Thüringer’s success is Slovak international Lýdia Jakubisová.
The left handed player was forced to miss all matches in the premier European club competition last season after a crucial ligament rupture one week before the start of the competition. Fully recovered, she is now back on track, scoring 17 goals in three matches leaving her as the team’s top scorer.
In this interview with www.ehfCL.com Jakubisová explains the boost of success for Thüringer HC.
ehfCL.com: Less than 24 hours after the final whistle of the Women’s EHF Champions League match against Budućnost Podgorica (24:20) – can you imagine what had happened?
Lýdia Jakubisová: It was brilliant, it was genuinely our team’s best match this season. The defence was great, our goalkeeper Maike März saved a huge number of important shots. Everything worked out really well.
ehfCL.com: Did you expect that your team would be able to beat the defending champions?
Lýdia Jakubisová: We did not expect it, but we had hoped for a victory. After we had beaten Viborg we knew that we can keep up with the top international opponents, at least on home ground. We knew that we could have a chance against Budućnost, as they lost some big names.
And we put the pedal to the metal for 60 minutes, we did not give up for a single moment when we were down, we always fought, and eventually we were successful.
ehfCL.com: It was only the third defeat for Podgorica in the past 19 matches of the Women’s EHF Champions League….
Lýdia Jakubisová: Really? We did not know the statistics, but this makes it even better. It’s great!
ehfCL.com: After three matches, Thüringer HC are equal on points with Budućnost and Zvezda – surprising for you?
Lýdia Jakubisová: It is a little surprising, of course. After our performance against Viborg we knew that if we continue like this we might have a chance against others, too. After five defeats and one draw in our first ever Champions League season we knew that we wanted to win our home matches, and we are successful up to now. But in the upcoming away match in Podgorica, we are the underdogs again. The Montenegrins are handball-crazy, and they will create a special atmosphere.
ehfCL.com: But the chances of reaching the Main Round for the first time in club’s history are looking good?
Lýdia Jakubisová: Our final home match against Zvezda could be like a final for us in the race to the Main Round. Perhaps we can surprise Viborg again, just like we did at home. We are currently doing our homework from match to match and we are not calculating the final positions at this stage.
ehfCL.com: How does your team cope with the situation of 12 matches in six weeks in EHF Champions League and German league?
Lýdia Jakubisová: Both competitions are quite different. We have managed all our tasks in the German league, topping the table with just one defeat, but playing in the Champions League is something very special for us. We enjoy every minute on the court facing those top teams. So at the moment, everything is perfect.
ehfCL.com: In the past season you did not play any EHF Champions League match after your severe knee injury. Is everything currently OK?
Lýdia Jakubisová: Yes, I have fully recovered and I feel that I am in the form of my life again after being out for nearly six months. I am able to show strong performances and to help my team, this is pure fun. And I hope that it was my last major injury.
TEXT: Björn Pazen / br