FEATURE: Defending champions Frisch Auf Göppingen are confident of going all the way again
Reigning champions launch their ‘home finals’ mission
Nine months ago, on 11 May 2016, they danced through the arena in Nantes, raising the EHF Cup trophy, and in three months, on 20/21 May, they want to be on the court again on home soil, when the next EHF Cup champions will be crowned.
At least, six matches stand in the way of the defending EHF Cup champions Frisch Auf Göppingen - who were awarded host of the EHF Cup Finals. Six hurdles, starting with the opener against former EHF Cup winner Fraikin Granollers on Saturday.
If Göppingen finish on top of Group B or among the three best second ranked teams, they straight make it to the EHF Cup Finals, if they finish fourth best second ranked team, they have to play in the quarter-finals. If they missed out on positions one or two, the organiser of the finals will not be part of the deciding tournament.
Before the start of their “mission home finals”, manager Gerd Hofele is confident: “Our winter preparation went well, all players are fit, but we have in mind that we will have a balancing act ahead with Bundesliga and EHF Cup. We have to focus on both competitions in the same way.” After 18 rounds in the league, Göppingen are below their expectations, taking up eleventh spot in the table.
Besides Granollers, the defending champions face Danish side Midtjylland and Portuguese former Champions League participant FC Porto.
The final test match ended successfully, and proved the international class of the 2011, 2012 (each old format) and 2016 EHF Cup winners: they beat the Ukrainian champions and Champions League team Motor Zaporozhye 30:27. “We played quite well, though we still had some periods when the concentration was low,” said Swedish born coach Andersson (picture above).
Hofele hopes for a good start in all competitions: “We have huge ambition for top results in the EHF Cup Group Phase, as we host the EHF Cup Finals. Besides, good results in Bundesliga and on international turf increase the confidence of the players and the motivation of the fans to support us.”
TEXT: Björn Pazen / bc
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