EHF Cup countdown, part 15: Eskilstuna Guif (SWE)
Swedes out to prove they learned their lesson
Two years ago, Eskilstuna Guif were taught a lesson during the EHF Cup Group Phase, six lessons in fact, failing to gain a single point as they lost each of their Group A games.
But the Swedish side hope to use that experience to their advantage as they target a place in the quarter-finals this time around.
After eliminating SonderjyskE (DEN) and Huesca (ESP) in qualification, Guif earned a favourable draw, which pits them against Balatonfüredi, Melsungen and Nexe in Group D.
Coach Kristjan Andrésson can count on a stronger squad than last season, with no departures, four new arrivals, and Patrik Johansson the only long-term injury absentee.
The four-time Swedish league runners-up hope to finish among the top four in their domestic competition to qualify for European competition once more.
But they have their sights set on the last eight of the EHF Cup too.
“We aim for the quarter-finals,” said Andrésson, who also acts as the manager.
His team know what to expect from some of their Group D opponents with Melsungen including three Swedish internationals in their squad while Nexe centre back Luka Sokolic, was part of the Guif squad during the 2012/13 season.
Team captain Richard Blank is confident Guif can improve on their performance in the competition two years ago.
He said: “We have a chance to go to the quarter-finals, but of course, we meet some good teams and Melsungen must be the favourite in our group.”
Three questions for coach Kristjan Andrésson:
eurohandball.com: What are your expectations for the EHF Cup Group Phase, regarding your objectives and your group opponents?
Kristjan Andrésson: “I think that the strongest team in our group is Melsungen. They have a very strong team with good defence and goalkeeping. Three teams will race for the second place in the group. Both Nexe and Balatonfüredi are teams that will be new experiences for us in Eskilstuna Guif.”
eurohandball.com: What does participation in the EHF Cup Group Phase mean to you and your club?
Kristjan Andrésson: “For me it is a proof that we played well in the second and third qualification round. Both SonderjyskE and Huesca are two good teams. We managed to win in tough games, which gave us good experience going into the group phase. For the club it is always important to show ourselves in Europe both as a handball team and also as a club that always wants to be better.”
eurohandball.com: Which teams are your favourites to reach the EHF Cup Finals?
Kristjan Andrésson: “Many good teams have a chance, but in my opinion the strongest ones are Berlin, Skjern, Melsungen and Constanta."
Eskilstuna Guif (SWE)
The road to the group phase:
Qualifying Round 2: Guif vs. Sönderjyske 29:27, 26:25
Qualifying Round 3: Guif vs. Huesca 32:24, 23:26
Newcomers: Herdeiro Lucau (IFK Kristianstad), Patrik Johansson (Red Boys, Luxemburg), Atli ævar Ingolfsson (Nordsjälland)
Left the club: N/A
Coach: Kristjan Andrésson (since 2007)
EHF European Cup competitions records:
VELUX EHF Champions League
Other EC records:
Cup Winners’ Cup: Quarter-finals 1997/98, Round 4 2001/02 and 2009/10
Challenge Cup: Last 16 2010/11
Swedish league: Runners-up (1997, 2001, 2009, 2011)
TEXT: Björn Pazen / jh
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