COUNTDOWN: 16 days to the start of the EHF Cup Group Phase the EHF Cup Finals hosts Füchse Berlin start the countdown series
Part 1: Füchse Berlin - Hoping for the final on home court
After being eliminated only by one goal in the all-German VELUX EHF Champions League play-off against defending champions HSV Hamburg in August, Füchse Berlin needed to give all to sail past Belarusian runners-up Meshkov Brest in the qualification for the EHF Cup Group Phase.
But the club from the German capital had double joy in early December, as they did not only make it to the Group Phase, but were awarded by the EHF to host the final tournament in their Max-Schmeling Arena.
So if they finish top of their group (in which they face Constanta, Chambery and Hlohovec) or are among the three best second ranked teams, Füchse are directly qualified for the EHF Cup Finals on home court.
This would be the next major international success after qualifying for the 2012 VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne in their debut season in the premier European club competition.
“I hope that we make it to the final tournament, but it is going to be tough,” says manager Bob Hanning.
“Constanta and Chambery are very experienced teams in international business. We need the support of our spectators at home to reach our goal to participate in the EHF Cup finals,” Hanning added.
Spanish team captain Iker Romero, two-time EHF Champions League winner with FC Barcelona, shares those hopes: “Of course we are fighting for the best in the EHF Cup. We got a tough group and hope to reach the finals at home and from this point on everything can happen.”
Coach Dagur Sigurdsson additionally hopes that left back Sven-Sören Christopherssen will be back in the middle of the Group Phase after recovering from an injury.
Three questions to coach Dagur Sigurdsson:
What are your expectations for the Group Phase of the EHF Cup - concerning your objectives and your group opponents?
Dagur Sigurdsson: I am expecting a hard group. A lot of people estimate us as the favourites. But first of all we must ensure that we play on the right performance level and be totally focussed on the games in the Group Phase.
What does the participation in the group phase mean to you and your club?
Dagur Sigurdsson: We are a young club in this competition. We know that we do not have the longest history, nevertheless we are a good candidate for winning this competition after two successful years of VELUX EHF Champions League experience.
What teams are your personal favourites to reach the EHF Cup Finals?
Dagur Sigurdsson: It’s difficult to say. Montpellier and Hannover are candidates - and we hope that we can make it to the final round at home.
Füchse Berlin (GER)
The road to the Group Phase:
Newcomers: Fredrik Petersen (HSV Hamburg), Jesper Nielsen (IK Sävehof/SWE), Mattias Zachrisson (IF Guif/SWE), Pavel Horak (FA Göppingen), Jonas Thümmler, Fabian Wiede (both Füchse youth team)
Left the club: Johannes Sellin (MT Melsungen), Torsten Laen (KIF Kolding Kopenhagen/DEN), Mark Bult (VfL Gummersbach), Ivan Nincevic (Dinamo Minsk/BLR), Ramon Tauabo (TuS N-Lübbecke), Borge Lund (Bodo HK/Norwegen), Evgeni Pevnov (FA Göppingen)
Coach: Dagur Sigurdsson
Biggest successes in EHF European Cup competitions:
TEXT: Björn Pazen / br
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