Men’s EHF Cup countdown – part 8: Carlos Antonio Ortega has led KIF Kolding Kobenhavn for a year now and is keen to steer the club beyond the Men’s EHF Cup Group Phase
Ortega’s mastermind shall guide KIF to the quarter-final
13 times KIF Kolding Kobenhavn have played in the VELUX EHF Champions League, but in the 2015/16 season Bjerringbro-Silkeborg and TTH Holstebro both surpassed them in the Danish league, making the EHF Cup the new European handball home for the 14-time national champions.
The previous season also marked a cut in other ways, and one of the first steps in building a new team was the signing of Carlos Antonio Ortega as new coach in January 2016, only months after the Spaniard and his previous club Telekom Veszprem had parted ways.
For the current season, Ortega, who the EHF Champions League five times as a player, was behind the signings of fellow Spaniards, Antonio Garcia and Niko Mindegia, as well of some international players who played for Spanish clubs before such as Swede Philip Stenmalm and Brazilian Fabio Chiuffa.
However, at the same time some big names, including top talent Lasse Andersson (to FC Barcelona Lassa) and former EHF Champions League winner Torsten Laen (to GOG) left KIF.
Despite this transition phase, everyone at KIF hopes to return to the top of the Danish league and to reach the knockout stage of the EHF Cup.
After the club only just scraped through the third qualification round, beating Abanca Ademar Leon in the first leg 27:24 before losing the second 27:25, they now face former EHF Cup and EHF Champions League winners SC Magdeburg, Grundfos Tatabanya KC and Maccabi CASTRO Tel Aviv in Group C.
“We are in a strong group and SC Magdeburg must be the favourites. However, we believe we can advance from the group stage and who knows what happens then. Maybe we can compete with some of the other top teams,” says Ortega.
For him the participation in the EHF Cup means a lot: “Unfortunately we did not qualify for the Champions League this season, and it is therefore nice that we still can give our fans some European handball.”
KIF Kolding Kobenhavn (DEN)
Newcomers: Philip Stenmalm (Naturhouse La Rioja), Niko Mindegia (MOL-Pick Szeged), Antonio Garcia (MOL-Pick Szeged), Fabio Chiuffa (Ciudad de Guadalajara), Nicolas Kristiansen (HIK)
Left the club: Lasse Andersson (FC Barcelona Lassa), Lukas Karlsson (Ribe Esbjerg), Torsten Laen (GOG), Kasper Irming (Skanderborg Håndbold)
Team captain: Bo Spellerberg
Last 16: 2003/04, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2013/14, 2014/15
Last 32: 1993/94
Group Phase: 1994/95, 2015/16
Other EC records
Cup Winners’ Cup
Danish champions: 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2014, 2015
Danish cup winners: 1989, 1993, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2014
TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
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