Men’s EHF Cup countdown - part 4: Things have not been easy for 2015 Champions Füchse Berlin in the EHF Cup to date, but new coach Petkovic says that his team is eager to book the ticket to the Finals
With a new coach at the helm, Füchse Berlin want to go all the way
In order to reach the group phase of the Men's EHF Cup, no team had higher hurdles to clear than Füchse Berlin.
However, after they had beaten former EHF Cup Finals participants, Chambery Savoie from France and Gorenje Velenje from Slovenia in Rounds 2 and 3, something surprising happened: In December 2016, Berlin parted ways with their head coach Erlingur Richardsson.
The Icelandic had taken over the team in summer 2015, succeeding Dagur Sigurdsson who then only focussed on his role as German national team coach. Richardsson’s successor is now the experienced Velimir Petkovic, who coached several German clubs before and steered Frisch Auf Göppingen to the EHF Cup trophy in 2016.
Entering the group phase, Füchse Berlin hope for another EHF Cup Finals participation. They hosted the event in 2014 and 2015 and won it two years ago.
But on the way to a potential third participation or even second title, they first face GOG from Denmark, Ribnica from Slovenia and Saint-Raphael from France in Group A.
“We have to survive this stage,” says Petkovic. “In particular, the two matches against Saint-Raphael will be extremely tough. They are famous for their strength in away matches. And any Danish side is a high hurdle, too. We will have to give it all we have to make it to Göppingen (hosts of the EHF Cup Finals 2017).”
Even though Petkovic has been part of many European Cup matches, he says that the EHF Cup is special for him.
“The competition is highly important for the club. We have certain goals to fulfil. It is not enough to be part of the group phase, we want more – the ticket to Göppingen.”
For the upcoming matches, Petkovic will have to replace injured Croat Drago Vukovic. Furthermore, there is a question mark hovering over German international Fabian Wiede who is still recovering from a shoulder injury. However, Wiede might be fit again at a later stage of the competition.
Füchse Berlin (GER)
Qualification for the 2016/2017 EHF Cup Group Phase: Round 2: 25:22, 24:22 against Chambery Savoie (FRA), Round 3: 29:24, 29:32 against Gorenje Velenje (SLO)
Newcomers: Fynn Ole Fritz, Mark Ferjan, Christoph Reißky (all Füchse youth team), Steffen Fäth (HSG Wetzlar), Kresimier Kozina (SG Flensburg-Handewitt)
Left the club: Willy Weyhrauch (ThSV Eisenach), Angelo Grunz (TUSEM Essen), Colja Löffler, Denis Špoljarić, Bartlomiej Jaszka (all end of career), Moritz Schade (Dessau-Roßlauer HV), Jesper Nielsen (PSG Paris Handball), Faruk Vrazalic (Besiktas Istanbul)
Team captain: Peter Stochl
Last 16: 2012/13
Other EC records:
EHF Cup Finals: 2013/14 (3rd)
IHF Super Globe winners: 2015, 2016
German champions: n/a
German cup winners: 2014
TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
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