EHF Cup countdown, part 15: Tatran Prešov (SVK)
Just one league is not enough for Tatran Prešov. Slovakia’s dominant club once played in the Czech league, then the Hungarian league, and most recently since the start of this season in the multi-national SEHA league.
Given their exploits in the last few years, the Prešov players are used to traveling more than their opposing teams in the EHF Cup.
In previous years, Prešov were a constant participant in the EHF Champions League, but the Slovakian league champions failed in the qualification tournaments this and last season.
At the start of January the club had to undergo several changes: Branko Benko became the new manager of Tatran, and Roman Lamač is the new coach as successor to Djordje Rašić.
However, even with this new personal, the goals remain the same: to win the Slovak double of league and cup, reach the final tournament of the SEHA league, and last but not least qualifying for the quarter-finals of the EHF Cup.
“The draw put us in a very tough group, so it will be a great challenge to win all of our home matches and to do our best in away matches to qualify for the quarter-finals,” new manager Branko Benko said.
Team captain Radoslav Antl believes his team were unlucky in the first half of the season, but is looking forward to what lies ahead.
“It’s been a little bit of bad luck that we couldn’t make it to the Champions League, but at least it (EHF Cup) is still a celebration for Prešov and Slovak handball.
“We will push ourselves to win all matches. Also we expect a great attendance of our fans in our home games, so we will do everything to satisfy the spectators.”
After several years of refurbishment, the newly re-constructed Tatran Prešov Handball Arena is the new home for team and fans, and the new mascot, a horse, is going to entertain and support fans and team.
Three questions to coach Roman Lamač:
What are your expectations for the Group Phase of the EHF Cup - concerning your objectives and your group opponents?
Roman Lamač: This group consists of high quality clubs, so at first we have to play a few games in order to see our real chances to succeed in this group.
We hope we will see a few surprise games against our group favourites Rhein Neckar Löwen and KIF Kolding, because we don’t consider ourselves as a favourite of this group. We are looking forward to having matches with some top European teams.
What does the participation in the Group Phase of the EHF Cup mean to you and your club?
Roman Lamač: Last year we finished our participation in the EHF Cup in the Last 16, we lost the games against SC Magdeburg. This year there is a new EHF Cup, and to qualify for the quarter-finals would be a break-through compared to last year’s effort in this competition.
What teams are your personal favourites to reach the EHF Cup Finals?
Roman Lamač: Frisch Auf Göppingen, KIF Kolding, Rhein Neckar Löwen, and SC Magdeburg
Tatran Prešov (SVK) – Group B
The road to the Group Phase:
Round 3: 36:25, 30:25 against Borac Banja Luka
Coach: Roman Lamač, since January 2013 as successor of Djordje Rašić (June 2011 to December 2012)
Newcomers: Jan Sobol (Vardar Skopje), Oliver Rábek (HC Štart Nové Zámky), Andrej Petro (Dormagen)
Left the club: Jan Sobol, Ante Kukrika, Michal Kopčo
Biggest successes in EHF European Cup competitions:
VELUX EHF Champions League : 9 appearances – Last 16 2004/05, Last 32 1993/94, Group Matches 2005/06, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2010/11, qualification 2009/10, 2011/12, 2012/13
EHF Cup: 5 appearances – quarter-finalists 2011/12, Last 16 1994/95, 1995/96, Round 4 2009/10, Round 3 2006/07
EHF Cup Winners’ Cup: 4 appearances – quarter-finalists 205/06, Last 16 2007/08, 2008/09, Round 4 2002/03
Slovak league: eight times winners since 2001
Slovak cup: nine times winners since 2001
Born on 26 April 1968
Lamač started his playing career where he now is the coach, at Tatran Prešov. Later-on he played for Slovakian side MHC Bardejov before transferring to German second division club Concordia Delitzsch, which he also coached later. Before returning to Tatran Prešov he was the coach at IUVENTA Michalovce in Slovakia.
Born on 5 July 1973
Born in Krasnodar (Russia), Radčenko later changed his citizenship to Czech. He started his professional career at his home club SKIF Krasnodar, before his journey through Europe where he played for HC Conversano (Italy), MT Melsungen (Germany), HCB OKD Karviná (Czech Republic), and now Tatran Prešov.
Born on 27 September 1990
At 215 centimetres, Krištopans is among the tallest players in all European Cup competitions. The right back is a Latvian international and started his career at SK Latgos (Latvia) before transferring to Tatran Prešov at the age of 18. The right back scored 34 goals in six EHF Cup games last season.
Find more information on Tatran Prešov here
The schedule of the Men´s EHF Cup Group Phase can be found here
TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor