Successful end of a long journey
After failing three straight times quite early in their European Cup campaigns, Sporta Hlohovec made history this season by qualifying for the EHF Cup Group Phase. The team of former Presov, Bregenz and Czech national team coach Martin Liptak went all the way – as the only of all 16 teams from the first qualification round to the group phase.
On the way to the biggest success in club history they sailed past Switzerland’s St. Gallen, Bosnian Banja Luka and Norway’s Arendal and now Sporta found themselves facing former Champions League teams Chambery and Constanta and hosts of the EHF Cup Finals Füchse Berlin in Group D.
Now it is the clear objective of Sporta to represent their city of Hlohovec and the Slovak handball in the best possible way on a big stage.
Additionally Sporta hope to qualify again for international competitions.
“The big pressure is gone,” coach Liptak said after making it to the group phase.
“We are full of positive emotions and we are looking forward to meeting top European clubs on this level. It is a historic moment for the handball in Hlohovec.“
Liptak's maximum in the EHF Cup remains Last 16 with Bregenz in 2010/11.
“I cannot compare the success with Hlohovec to my previous European spells with Tatran Presov or Bregenz. Both were bigger clubs on higher sporting level, in terms of infrastructure and were working with higher budgets,” he said.
“Despite problems we had and despite injuries we showed solid performances to earn the spot in last 16 of the EHF Cup. It is precious result for club like Sporta Hlohovec and personally I would compare it to reaching the top eight at the 2010 EHF EURO with the Czech national team.”
Three questions to coach Martin Liptak:
What are your expectations for the EHF Cup Group Phase - concerning your objectives and your group opponents?
Martin Liptak: Group D is very strong, Füchse Berlin, Chambery and Constanta have experienced teams, this composition promises quality matches. In every game we will fight for the best result.
What does the participation in the EHF Cup Group Phase mean to you and your club?
Martin Liptak: This is the greatest achievement in the history of the club, we hope for attractive games and opponents and good handball experience.
What teams are your personal favourites to reach the EHF Cup Finals?
Martin Liptak: This season many high quality teams are part of the EHF Cup Group Phase , the competition has a high level. Among the favourites are Füchse Berlin, not only because they will host the final tournament.
HC Sporta Hlohovec (SVK)
The road to the Group Phase:
Round 1: HC Sporta Hlohovec – Otmar St. Gallen 29:21, 28:31
Round 2: HC Sporta Hlohovec – Borac m:tel Banja Luka 36:23, 27:26
Round 3: HC Sporta Hlohovec – OIF Arendal 26:20, 26:27
Newcomers: Mladen Cačic (Nove Zamky/SVK), Alexander Ivanov (Nove Zamky/SVK)
Left the club: Marian Tallo, Jaroslav Cibulka (end of career)
Coach: Martin Liptak, since 2012
Biggest successes in EHF European club competitions:
Round 1: 2010/11, 2012/13
Cup Winners’ Cup:
Round 3: 2011/12
Slovak champion: - (runners-up in 2009/10, 2011/12, 2012/13)
TEXT: Björn Pazen / br