The last winners of the old EHF Cup open the countdown towards the start of the Group Phase of the new Men´s EHF Cup.
Men´s EHF Cup countdown, part 1: Frisch Auf Göppingen (GER)
After winning the old format of the EHF Cup twice in its final seasons, Frisch Auf Göppingen is aiming for the final tournament in the first edition of the new format.
Göppingen is of those German clubs with the longest tradition and have dominated European handball in the 1960’s. After decades without any international appearance, the team of coach Velimir Petković re-started their continental campaigns in 2005, when his players reached the semi-final of the EHF Cup.
In the current season, Göppingen hope for another qualification for the EHF Cup season 2013/14 – but firstly they hope to proceed to the next stage of this competition after reaching the Group Phase by eliminating Belarusian team Brest in Round 3.
“As two time defending champions of the old EHF Cup, we are now looking forward to taking part in the new group phase of the competition," the manager Alexander Kolb mentions.
"This will be a new experience and challenge for our team. Our club and our fans are excited. We have strong opponents, but we hope to reach the quarter-finals.”
Team captain and German international Michael Haaß shares those hopes: “In the third round we won two times against the Belarusian team of Brest, and now the draw gave us the matches against La Rioja, Eskilstuna and Koper. These will be interesting matches, but we want to go through the group to the quarter-final.”
Because of an injury of the goalkeeper Bastian Rutschmann, the club transferred former goalkepper Enid Tahirović back from Hamburg to Göppingen in mid-December, but the Bosnian veteran retired soon after.
The road to the Group Phase:
EHF Cup: 4 participations – winners 2011/12, 2010/11, finalists 2005/06, quarter-finalists 2009/10
In his playing career Petković was part of the famous Yugoslavian team of RM Banja Luka, becoming domestic champion and cup winner several times. Later he coached Banja Luka and led them to the title in the IHF Cup competition in 1991. Some years later he arrived in Germany and coached Scharnhausen, Wernau, Rintheim and Oßweil, before joining his first Bundesliga club in Wetzlar, where he was coach from 1998 until 2004. Then Petković started his mission in Göppingen, forming the team, which became EHF Cup winner twice in 2011 and 2012.
The major success of Haaß was becoming world champion in 2007 with the German national team. The centre back is the hub of Göppingen and German attack and also a key in defence. Haaß has the experience of more than 100 international matches and played for the German sides Minden, Rhein-Neckar Löwen and TuSEM Essen before transferring to Göppingen. At club level his major successes were the three EHF Cup titles in 2005 with Essen and in 2011 and 2012 with Frisch Auf.
The Czech international is another top back court player of Göppingen. He started his professional career for Baník Karviná, before he went to Germany, playing first for Ahlener SG, before he transferred to Göppingen. His major successes were the two EHF Cup titles in 2011 and 2012.
Find more information on Frisch Auf Göppingen here
The schedule of the Men´s EHF Cup Group Phase can be found here
TEXT: Björn Pazen / br
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