EHF Cup countdown, part 13: Tatran Presov (SVK)
Neither a favourite, nor an underdog
Two goals shy of making it to the Group Phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League, and like the season before, Slovak champions Tatran Presov were left to focus on the EHF Cup. After their close defeat in the final of the qualification tournament against Romanian side Constanta in 2012, this season Dinamo Minsk made it to the VELUX EHF Champions League at the expense of Tatran.
Presov, under the new leadership of coach Peter Hatalcik, will be one of only two teams returning to the EHF Cup Group Phase for the second consecutive season (alongside HBC Nantes) after winning the qualification matches against Maribor Branik from Slovenia.
High hurdles are ahead of the Slovaks, as they face Nantes, Szeged and Kristianstad in their group. And the EHF Cup is only one of four competitions Tatran are in, as they aim to defend their titles in the Slovak league and cup, additionally they aim to reach the final tournament of the SEHA league for the first time.
Making their task even more difficult is the fact that coach Peter Hatalcik will have to replace two key players, both on the line, due to long-term injuries to Andrej Petro and Damian Krzysztofik.
General club manager Branko Benko is proud that Tatran are continuing to progress in Europe.
“The fact that Tatran Presov is one of only two clubs that participated in the Group Phase last season and the rest of clubs are new just proves that the quality of European handball is high.
“We are in a tough group, but our objective is to proceed from the group phase to the quarter-finals. Last year we narrowly missed this stage, so we hope to make it this year,” said Benko.
Experienced Slovak international Radoslav Antl, Tatran’s team captain, has mixed emotions before the start of the Group Phase: “It was a disappointment for us that we did not qualify for the Champions League. On the other hand we were pleased by qualifying for the Group Phase of the EHF Cup.
“We are in a group in which there is neither a favourite nor an underdog. We will try to do our best mainly in our home matches and at the end please our fans by qualifying for the quarter-finals.”
Three questions to coach Peter Hatalcik:
What are your expectations for the Group Phase of the EHF Cup - concerning your objectives and your group opponents?
Peter Hatalcik: We expect very close games of high quality.
What does the participation in the Group Phase of the EHF Cup mean to you and your club?
Peter Hatalcik: The participation of our team in the second most important European club competition means for us the confrontations of our team with the leading European teams and also the ability for our fans to see high quality matches.
What teams are your personal favourites to reach the EHF Cup Finals?
Peter Hatalcik: Füchse Berlin, Pick Szeged, Montpelier Agglomeration HB, TSV Hannover-Burgdorf
Tatran Presov (SVK)
The road to the Group Phase:
Newcomers: Damian Krzysztofik (Tauron Stal Mielec, POL), Viacheslav Sadovyi (HC Winland Michalovce, SVK), Patrik Hruscak (HC Winland Michalovce, SVK), Matjaz Mlakar (IBV Vestmannaeyjar, ISL)
Left the club: Radovan Pekar (1. MHK Kosice, SVK), Tomas Mazar (Zweibrücken, GER), Tomas Marusak (Dansenberg, GER), Patrik Hruscak
Coach: Peter Hatalcik (since July 2013)
Biggest successes in EHF European Cup competitions:
VELUX EHF Champions League
EHF Cup Winners’ Cup
Slovak champions: 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Slovak cup winners: 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor
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