16.05.2017, 09:30 Wiegert: “Our plans have been designed to set up a successful weekend in Göppingen”
INTERVIEW: Despite a tough semi against hosts Göppingen, the Magdeburg coach hopes for a historic weekend for his side
Wiegert: “Our plans have been designed to set up a successful weekend in Göppingen”
After SC Magdeburg were eliminated in the 2013 and 2016 quarter-finals of the EHF Cup by the to-be winners Rhein-Neckar Löwen and Frisch Auf Göppingen, now the team of head coach Bennet Wiegert will have their chance at the LIQUI MOLY EHF Cup Finals on 20/21 May in Göppingen. They will face the hosts and defending EHF Cup champions in their semi-final.
In this interview, Wiegert explains the significance of the finals for the club and its fans and expresses the hopes dreams of the three-time EHF Cup winners (1999, 2001 and 2007) and first ever German EHF Champions League winner (2002).
Did the EHF Cup have the highest priority for SC Magdeburg in the second half of this season?
Bennet Wiegert: It is hard to say. After we, unfortunately, came up short in the German Cup against THW Kiel, the fire was burning for the EHF Cup and Bundesliga in the same way. But in the last weeks, it was our goal to make it to Göppingen for sure. Since we won the German Cup in a Final 4 tournament in 2016, we know such events, so it was our aim to experience such emotions again and to hold the trophy in our hands. SC Magdeburg have won so many European Cup competitions and even the EHF Champions League, but we never won a European final tournament. When we won our last international trophy in 2007, this format had not been implemented, so we have major goals in Göppingen.
Nine victories, one draw, zero defeats - you should be very happy with the international season in the EHF Cup so far?
Bennet Wiegert: After the draw I did not know exactly what to think of our group. It was neither the toughest, nor the easiest, but we could not predict that it would be the most balanced. I had expected a Magdeburg – Kolding dual for the top positions, but Kolding had huge problems and Tatabanya played stronger than expected. And even our matches against the underdog Tel Aviv were far from walks in the park. We had to put the pedal to the metal in all our matches including in the qualification against RK Nexe. This reflects the high quality of the competition. In our first quarter-final against Anaitasuna we managed to put out a statement already, and then our fans started to buy tickets for the LIQUI MOLY EHF Cup Finals.
How many fans will join Magdeburg in Göppingen?
Bennet Wiegert: It was easy to sell our contingent of tickets, and I know that many fans were confident and bought tickets before, so we will hopefully have a huge support. Our fans are very willing to travel and - in a very positive sense - handball-crazy.
You will face the hosts and defending champions Göppingen in your semi-final - not the easiest task, right?
Bennet Wiegert: Indeed, this was definitely not our dream. In 2016, we had experienced, how you can save a whole season by winning two matches at a final tournament, when we took the German cup. Göppingen are in a similar situation now as were one year ago. Therefore, it will be a truly tough match. But if you want to win the title you have to beat all opponents - and it’s not only our target to make it to the final, but to win it. Despite Göppingen playing below their expectations this season, this match will be super.
Would it be fair to say that the German sides are the clear favourites to lift the trophy?
Bennet Wiegert: Mathematically, the chance of a German team winning the trophy is 75 percent. So the answer is yes. In my opinion, Göppingen and Berlin have a major advantage compared to us: both of them are part of the EHF Cup Finals for the third time, we are debutants in this “new format”. They know the rundown, they know what to expect, they know how to focus on the integral part of the event - two handball matches. In 2016, we won the German Cup because we had been part of this tournament the year before - we knew what to do. In terms of EHF Cup Finals we do not have this experience.
But to win the next international title exactly ten years after the last one would be a nice gift, right?
Bennet Wiegert: We will prepare well for this and then we will see how far we go. All of our plans for the previous weeks have been designed to set up a successful weekend in Göppingen.
TEXT: Björn Pazen / bc
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