Hrachovec: Priceless experience
Kadetten Schaffhausen have reached the Last 16 of the VELUX EHF Champions League for the second straight time – a big success for the Swiss champions. But after losing the first leg against Atletico 27:36 at home, they are underdogs to pull back that deficit in Madrid on Saturday.
But despite the first leg result, coach Petr Hrachovec is extremely proud of the performances his team have put on at international level this season. To be part of the VELUX EHF Champions League is not only highly important for the Swiss, but was one reason for the Czech to extend his contract at Schaffhausen, where he has been coach since he stopped playing in 2008.
In this interview with ehfCL.com Hrachovec explains what it means to be part of the Quarter Finals and to give the club a bright future.
ehfCL.com: On Sunday your team face Atletico Madrid in the second leg of the Last 16. What will be your strategy after suffering a clear defeat on home ground?
Petr Hrachovec: My expectations before the first leg were quite high, but we performed with too much respect. Now we want to achieve a better result at Madrid, we want to play more pro-actively and with more courage, and we want to give a better account of ourselves.
ehfCL.com: In the Group Phase you played against defending champions Barcelona, now you face Madrid – how important are those duels with world class opponents for the development of your team?
Petr Hrachovec: They are enormously important. We have a lot of young players in our team, and for them especially it is a priceless experience for their career. The input from those matches could well be decisive in reaching our goals.
ehfCL.com: Kadetten started weaker than expected in the Group Stage – what was the turning point?
Petr Hrachovec: At first I have to mention that it is a huge success for our team to be part of the Last 16 in the VELUX EHF Champions League. In the beginning our group had been underestimated, but in my opinion this group was tougher to play than the group we had last season. We rejuvenated our squad for this season, then the severe knee injury of our young talent Christian Dissinger occurred. We started quite well with the victory in Sarajevo. Unfortunately - and after being defeated by Barcelona and losing Dissinger to injury – we missed the points against Zagreb on home ground, and that left its mark on our team. The turning point was the home victory against Sävehof – after this I was sure that we can make it to the Last 16 again.
ehfCL.com: You mentioned the Last 16: How important was it for Kadetten and the whole of Swiss handball that you reached the knockout stages again?
Petr Hrachovec: Extremely important. Now everybody in European handball knows Kadetten thanks to those successes. To proceed to the Last 16 is an acknowledgment for the good work and the way we want to go. And Swiss handball will profit from this reputation and – even more important – the EHF ranking.
ehfCL.com: Have Kadetten approached the final stages of European handball from a long-term point of view?
Petr Hrachovec: I am convinced that we have. But we should not rest in the sun, but work hard and look ahead.
ehfCL.com: Since the start of this season your team play in the newly built BBC Arena – how important is this move especially for VELUX EHF Champions League matches?
Petr Hrachovec: It was perfect timing for us. The new arena provides everything you need for those big games. We enjoy playing our VELUX EHF Champions League matches there and we are proud that the city of Schaffhausen has such a modern arena.
ehfCL.com: You just extended your contract at Kadetten. What do you hope to acheive in the future?
Petr Hrachovec: We want to continue developing the same way as we have already - with a mixture of young and hungry Swiss talent and foreign players. And we hope to play VELUX EHF Champions League every year. So personally I hope to become Swiss champions again to be part of the top flight in the upcoming season – and then to reach third spot in the Group Stage.
ehfCL.com: After signing Junior World Champion Christian Dissinger you also secured Julius Emrich, another young German player. Is this a part of your strategy for the future?
Petr Hrachovec: Exactly, this is ideal. Schaffhausen is close to the German border and to sign young German players is ideal for both us and them. We have done a lot of work there in the previous years, which enables us to sign German players.
ehfCL.com: How important is the annual participation in the VELUX EHF Champions League for your team and the club Kadetten Schaffhausen?
Petr Hrachovec: We want to compete with the best teams of Europe every year, therefore we need to be part of the VELUX EHF Champions League. This speeds up the whole development of the club.
ehfCL.com: Do you sometimes dream about playing at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 with your team?
Petr Hrachovec: This is a really difficult question. Of course I dream about the VELUX EHF FINAL4, but the earliest we could acheive that is three to five years, but it depends on such a lot.
TEXT: Björn Pazen