EHF Cup countdown, part 1: HSV Hamburg (GER)
New competition to be won for HSV
2013 VELUX EHF Champions League winners HSV Hamburg faced tough times in 2014. Due to financial reasons it was even unclear if the club would manage to play in the first German league.
The trophy-winning coach Martin Schwalb was sacked and he later also suffered a heart-attack.
A huge number of top stars like Canellas, Duvnjak, Nilsson, Lackovic and Markovic left the club and the new arrivals are from a complete different format than the previous signings.
But the club managed to survive, as president and main sponsor Andreas Rudolph stepped in again, also installing a new club management headed by former German national team player Christian Fitzek.
In contrast to previous years - HSV played seven straight times in the VELUX EHF Champions League and made it twice to the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne - the goals are not the same anymore in Bundesliga, but on international level Hamburg want to complete their collection of silverware after winning the former Cup Winners' Cup in 2007.
After eliminating Swedish side Kristianstad in a highly close manner, HSV now will face Winterthur, Velenje and Haslum in the group phase. After French Christian Gaudin had taken over the coaches' position from Schwalb in summer 2014, he was already replaced in December by assistant coach Jens Häussler.
Despite being in quite heavy sea since nearly a year, manager Fitzek is confident to continue their successful journey on international ground in their first ever participation in the EHF Cup.
“This competition is an adventure for us, as it is our maiden voyage since the EHF Cup was merged with the Cup Winners' Cup. To be part of an European competition is always good for our sponsors to show up on an international stage, and is an important and interesting challenge for our players. We will play in an exciting group, so our fans will see attractive matches - and of course we want to remain in the competition as long as possible,” he said.
For team captain and 2007 world champion Pascal Hens "it is always something very special to compete on international ground. We are looking forward to matches against opponents we did not face that often.”
Three questions to coach Jens Häussler:
eurohandball.com: What are your expectations for the EHF Cup Group Phase - regarding your objectives and your group opponents?
Jens Häussler: We will face quite different opponents. Velenje are supposed to be the strongest of them, as they have the experience from playing Champions League. Scandinavian teams like Haslum are famous for their attractive handball and in addition we should not underestimate Winterthur. We need to be on top in all matches to proceed to the quarter-finals.
eurohandball.com: What does participation in the EHF Group Phase mean to you and your club?
Jens Häussler: Everybody dreams of being part of international competitions. We are happy that we are part of it and we expect tough challenges on court.
eurohandball.com: Which teams are your personal favourites to reach the EHF Cup Finals?
Jens Häussler: My favourites are the three German sides and one surprise team.
HSV Hamburg (GER)
The road to the group phase:
Qualifying Round 3: Hamburg vs. IFK Kristianstad 29:27, 26:28
Newcomers: Kevin Schmidt (HSG Wetzlar), Alexander Feld (DHfK Leipzig), Alexandru Simicu (HCM Constanta), Richard Hanisch (Hammarby IF HK), Tim Stefan (youth team)
Left the club: Domagoj Duvnjak (THW Kiel), Joan Canellas Reixach (THW Kiel), Blazenko Lackovic (HC Vardar Skopje), Zarko Markovic (Al-Jaish), Marcus Cleverly (KIF Kolding Kobenhavn), Andreas Nilsson (MKB-MVM Veszprem), Oscar Carlén (end of career), Marcel Schliedermann (ThSV Eisenach), Robert Schulze (SV Henstedt-Ulzburg)
Coach: Jens Häussler (since December 2014, before: Christian Gaudin)
Other EC records:
TEXT: Björn Pazen / br
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