FEATURE: Playing the EHF Challenge Cup has already meant a lot to developing IK Sävehof's new team, finds head coach Magnus Johansson ahead of the finals.
Challenge Cup is great for our young team, Johansson says
IK Sävehof had a wasted trip to Serbia last weekend, as the first leg of the Challenge Cup final against RK Metaloplastika Sabac was cancelled due to the heavy flooding in the area.
This did not annoy the Swedish team much, considering the serious background.
“Of course, one's thoughts go first of all to the victims of that terrible situation which we also witnessed with our own eyes, when we were there. In such a situation playing a handball match becomes so much less important,” Sävehof coach Magnus Johansson told eurohandball.com.
He finds that the Challenge Cup has been very good for his team so far. Not only because of the successful performances which have brought the team from the Gothenburg area to the final, but also because he feels that the tournament has developed his team considerably.
“We have a very talented, but also very young team, where the average age is 21 years. The matches we have played in the Challenge Cup so far have developed and matured a lot.
“I am particularly proud of our performances in the quarter-final against ZTR Zaporozhye and in the semi-final against Pulawy,” Magnus Johansson said.
The previous three years, Sävehof have been in the VELUX EHF Champions League, and two years ago, the team even managed to go on from the group phase, but Magnus Johansson has not had anything against going a couple of steps down the European ladder for this season.
“We are building a new team this season, after nine players left us after the last season, so the Challenge Cup is a great place to form and develop this new and promising team,” he finds.
This season the women's team has been alone, when it came to representing Sävehof in the EHF Champions League, and the women did so with success, reaching the main round for the first time in the history of the club.
And this coming Saturday, the day before the men play the home game in the Challenge Cup final, Sävehof's women will be playing the final of the
Swedish championship, reaching out for a further Champions League adventure.
Do the men in Sävehof not look a bit enviously at the women?
“No, not at all. Everyone in the club is proud of our women's team, and I am sure they will win the gold medal Saturday,” said Magnus Johansson who has a past career as coach of the club's women himself.
He has definitely not given up the hope to see the men in the Champions League again some day, though.
“We have long-ranged objective for the young team we have at present. In 2016, we get a new arena, and by then I hope that our men can win the Swedish championship and qualify for the Champions League again, so in three or four years we should be back.
“Right now, however, we are proud that we still have two teams representing us in Europe,” Magnus Johansson said.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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