INTERVIEW IFK Kristianstad´s experienced goalkeeper Dan Beutler does not dare to dream of reaching the EHF Cup Finals after their start to the group phase
We have reached our goal
Having lost their first two matches in the group phase of the EHF Cup, IFK Kristianstad are under pressure in Group C. It will take quite an effort from last season´s runners-up in the Swedish championship to the reach the quarter-finals, not to speak of the EHF Cup Finals in Berlin.
One of Kristianstad´s most experienced players, goalkeeper Dan Beutler, also realises that he and his teammates are in for a tough challenge if the dream of playing in Berlin in May is to come through.
Having played in the Bundesliga for 10 years, at SG Flensburg-Handewitt and HSV Hamburg, the former Swedish international sees the finals as extra spice in the autumn of his career.
At this point the goalkeeper, who returned home to Sweden last summer after 10 years in Germany and a short stint at El Jaish Sports Club in Qatar, does not really dare to dream of reaching Berlin when eurohandball.com spoke to him.
eurohandball.com: What has it been like for you to come home to Sweden and Swedish handball after so many years abroad?
Dan Beutler: It has been a big change, when it comes to the handball part. Obviously, the level in the Bundesliga is higher than in the Swedish league.
However, for a goalkeeper the job is still to save as many shots as possible and for a goalkeeper, who has played so many years in the Bundesliga as I have, the expectations will always be high, that has been a pressure I was not used to.
Personally, I have enjoyed coming home to friends and relatives and it has also been great for my family to come home to Sweden.
eurohandball.com: How would you rate the level in Swedish handball compared to when you left?
Dan Beutler: Actually it is hard to say. There are more young talents in the Swedish league these days, than there were when I left in 2003. Back then, there were more experienced players, and that resulted in Swedish teams doing better in Europe. For instance, the last year I played in Redbergslied, we reached the final of the Cup Winners’ Cup, where we lost to Ciudad Real. I do not think such an achievement would be realistic these days.
I think the reason is the fact that Swedish players leave for professional career abroad at an earlier stage, than they did before I left. Back then you virtually had to be in the national team in order to get a professional contract in the Bundesliga for instance. It is different nowadays.
eurohandball.com: Having played so many matches at international top level, as you have – with the Swedish national team as well as with Flensburg and Hamburg – what is it like for you to play the EHF Cup?
Dan Beutler: It is always interesting to play against some strong foreign teams, but as a matter of fact I think it means more to our young players and to our team in general, than it does to me.
It is a great opportunity for the team and for the young players in particular to get some experience, so I think it is a great learning process for us as a team.
I am sure we can benefit from all the experience we get in this competition, if we are going to play the Champions League or the EHF Cup next season.
eurohandball.com: What do you think of your team’s performance in the EHF Cup so far
Dan Beutler: In the group phase it has been a bit with mixed emotions this far. Our performance in our first match (a 37:30 away defeat to TATRAN Presov) was far from being good enough. It was okay to score 30 goals, but we should never have conceded 37.
In our latest match, at home against Pick Szeged (a 26:23 defeat) we did much better. I think that game showed what we are capable of doing at home in front of 4-5,000 spectators who really support us. In fact, we should have won that match, in which we were leading for great parts of the way, but again, our team is in a learning process, and I am sure that we learn a lot from matches like that one.
eurohandball.com: How do you see the chances of reaching the EHF Cup Finals?
Dan Beutler: I think they are pretty small right now. First, we will have to qualify for the quarter-finals, and that will be difficult enough.
Actually we reached our goal already by qualifying for the group phase, so anything beyond that will be bonus for us.
However, I still hope that we can at least win our remaining group matches, but we will have to improve a lot in order to have the chance of reaching the quarter-final, so right now I do not even dare to dream of the finals.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor
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