INTERVIEW: Göppingen right back was an EHF Cup finalist in 2015 with Hamburg and lifted three European Cup trophies with Gummersbach.
Pfahl: We need to beat two French sides to win the trophy
In terms of European Cup trophies, Adrian Pfahl and Lars Kaufmann are Frisch Auf Göppingen’s top stars with three titles in their cabinet. In contrast to Kaufmann, who returned to Frisch Auf after some years with SG Flensburg-Handewitt, including the VELUX EHF Champions League victory in 2014, Pfahl had just arrived at Göppingen in January from bankrupt HSV Hamburg.
With HSV, he was a 2015 EHF Cup finalist, but lost against host Füchse Berlin. After winning the EHF Cup in 2009, he took the Cup Winners’ Cup trophy with VfL Gummersbach in the years after (2010, 2011), while Göppingen won the old version of the EHF Cup in 2011 and 2012.
Now, Pfahl and Göppingen fight for their next international title, first facing Chambery Savoie Handball in the semi-final of the EHF Cup Finals in Nantes on Saturday at 17:30 hrs. local time. The match can be watched live on ehfTV.
In this interview with eurohandball.com, Pfahl talks about his personal history and the chances of his new club.
eurohandball.com: You are the only player on court in Nantes who was a EHF Cup finalist in 2015. Does this mean a special motivation for you to make it to the final again?
Adrian Pfahl: It is already brilliant for me to be back at the EHF Cup Finals, and I am absolutely happy to be there with Frisch Auf Göppingen. It is a special motivation to be part of the EHF Cup Finals again as it is a great handball event.
eurohandball.com: You are a triple European Cup winner with your former club VfL Gummersbach. What significance would a fourth trophy, this time with Göppingen, have for you?
Adrian Pfahl: It would be a dream come true to carry the trophy back home to Göppingen. If you have experienced how it feels to win a title, you want to enjoy these emotions again as often as possible.
eurohandball.com: Compared to the Bundesliga - what is your opinion of playing European Cup competitions?
Adrian Pfahl: It is the great opportunity to win an international title - there’s not more to say! But it is several times harder to be successful in 34 rounds of Bundesliga and to qualify for an international competition, this is what we are proud of.
eurohandball.com: You transferred to Göppingen in January after the demise of HSV. How long did it take to settle in the team?
Adrian Pfahl: There was no problem with integration as I knew nearly all players from younger age or senior national teams or just from playing against them in the league. But still we are in the process of fitting and of adapting to each other. The timing is extremely important, but it is improving week by week.
eurohandball.com: You will face Chambery in the semi-final. How do you rate the strength of the team, who eliminated defending champions Füchse Berlin?
Adrian Pfahl: Chambery can count on some truly experienced players, who can make the difference, and they fully deserve to be part of the EHF Cup Finals, as they have not only eliminated some top sides but have proved their fighting spirit against Saint Raphael when they turned a clear deficit into a ticket to Nantes.
eurohandball.com: Is it easier not to face the hosts of this event in the semi-final?
Adrian Pfahl: A draw is not a wishing well. Chambery are strong and only the daily form will decide the finalist.
eurohandball.com: Like Nantes, Göppingen bid for hosting the event, in the group phase both sides clashed already - so would Göppingen vs Nantes be the logical final on Sunday?
Adrian Pfahl: Definitely Nantes is the strongest team in the EHF Cup Finals, having the home advantage, too. So I guess, if we want to win the trophy, we must leave two French teams behind.
eurohandball.com: As a Bundesliga team, Göppingen is used to have tough matches in a very close schedule. Is this an advantage when having two crucial games within 24 hours?
Adrian Pfahl: I do not think that this is a significant advantage for us, as all four teams will arrive fully focussed, well-prepared and highly motivated in Nantes. Every team has the chance to win the trophy, so we will definitely see thrilling and exciting matches.
TEXT: Björn Pazen / es, cor
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