INTERVIEW: Hannover-Burgdorf team captain Lars Lehnhoff talks about the weak start in the EHF Cup and promises that hope dies last in his club
“We still have our fate in our hands”
Lars Lehnhoff has worn the jersey of TSV Hannover-Burgdorf for the last ten years, but his dream of playing international club handball only came true this season.. The team captain of the “Recken” (27) spoke to eurohandball.com about the weak start in the EHF Cup Group Phase and that they still keep their dream of their final destination Berlin, where the EHF Cup Finals take place in May, very much alive.
eurohandball.com: TSV Hannover-Burgdorf lost both opening matches in the group phase against Lugi and at Csurgo – what were the reasons?
Lars Lehnhoff: We had fully contrary hopes for our start in the group phase. It was our goal to start with two victories, but we really played very weak games. Both defeats were 100% our fault, so now we have to win the remaining four games to proceed to the quarter-finals.
eurohandball.com: As Hannover-Burgdorf are debutants on international ground, did the new setting have an influence on the results?
Lars Lehnhoff: No, I don’t think so. We have national team players in our squad and players who were part of the Champions League, which means that a part of our squad have huge international experience. The new setting is no excuse for our performances against Lugi and Csurgo.
eurohandball.com: The two defeats mean that your next match at former Champions League quarter-finalist Ademar Leon is already the crunch-point for the rest of the group phase. What is your attitude going into this clash?
Lars Lehnhoff: We expect a lion’s den with frenetic spectators. Two of our players, the Spaniards Juan Andreu and Alvaro Ferrer, played for Ademar before, told us what we can expect there. The fans will put enormous pressure on us, but we need to stand it.
I believe that we have a chance to win at Leon. It is a do or die match, so we have to forget the first two defeats.
eurohandball.com: Your motto is “once Hannover, always Hannover” – do you feel proud that you made it to the EHF Cup with “your” team?
Lars Lehnhoff: Two years ago I mentioned that it is my biggest dream to play in a European Cup competition with Hannover and I did not expect that the time would have come so early. It is a huge honour for me, the team and the whole club to be part of the EHF Cup now. And when you play on international ground once you always want to have it again every year.
eurohandball.com: What about the response of the fans for your international matches?
Lars Lehnhoff: It’s huge. I never experienced emotions on the stands like in our qualification match against Schaffhausen; it was great to feel this atmosphere. Also in our group phase debut against Lugi we had a huge number of fans in our arena, but unfortunately we crashed the party with our bad performance. All the people in Hannover talk about us playing on international ground as well as they talked about the Hannover 96 football team when they did the same. The whole city is at our side.
eurohandball.com: Despite the two opening defeats: Is the dream of reaching the EHF Cup Finals in Berlin, only a few hours away from Hannover, still alive?
Lars Lehnhoff: We will bend over backwards to win the remaining matches to proceed to the quarter-finals. We have to focus on every single moment in our matches now and if we manage to clinch a berth in the quarter-finals, we are allowed to dream on. We still have our fate in our hands.
Photo credit: Oliver Vosshage
TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor
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