Revamped Thüringer HC set for group phase
In 2019/20, after eight consecutive seasons in the EHF Champions League, Thüringer HC competed in the Women’s EHF Cup for the first time and reached the quarter-finals.
After a summer in which their squad has seen many changes, THC are preparing for the EHF European League group phase.
- second consecutive season participating in a group phase at this level
- defeated WAT Atzgersdort and HSG Blomberg-Lippe in qualification rounds
- most notable addition to a vastly different squad is Czech left back Markéta Jerábková
- will face CS Minaur Baia Mare, Storhamar Handball Elite and Astrakhanochka in group C
The burning question – how will Thüringer HC’s squad changes affect their chances?
It might be an exaggeration to say that THC’s squad is unrecognisable from the team that contested the EHF Cup last season, but the departure of nine players last summer marked the beginning of a new era for the former German champions.
Undeterred by the departures, Thüringer HC want to showcase their new-look team to a wider audience in the EHF European League group phase.
“We and our fans are hungry for the international competition and the special atmosphere and challenge,” said team manager Maik Schenk.
Still led by head coach Herbert Müller, who has been in charge since 2010, THC are in fifth place in the German Bundesliga after six wins from 10 games.
Left back Emily Bölk, who joined DELO EHF Champions League participants FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria, was arguably the most eye-catching name to leave the club – particularly after she finished the 2019 IHF Women’s World Championship as Germany’s joint top scorer and scored 30 goals for THC in the EHF Cup group phase last season.
For many years, Thüringer HC have been synonymous with world-class Czech centre back Iveta Koresova, who recently gave birth, but one summer signing continuing THC’s Czech link has already made a big impact: Markéta Jerábková.
Since joining from Erd in the summer, Jerábková has scored 86 goals in 10 league matches, including 26 penalties from 27 attempts, making her the top scorer in the German Bundesliga.
To achieve their goal of successfully contesting the group stage, THC will certainly want their attack to fire at a similar level to the 31.2 goals per game that they are averaging in the German league.
The showstopper – Markéta Jerábková
A goal machine for club and country since the 2020/21 season commenced, Markéta Jerábková is a player that you do not want to miss.
The current top scorer in the German Bundesliga was also the joint top scorer in the preliminary round at the Women’s EHF EURO 2020 – tied with Nora Mørk on 22 goals – and she has already scored 17 goals for THC in the qualification rounds in this competition.
International addition – Emma Ekenman Fernis
Still only 24 years old, the Swedish right wing moved from IK Sävehof to THC in the summer. So far, the move has paid dividends for both parties, with Ekenman Fernis scoring 43 goals at a 68 per cent rate in the German league.
New blood – Nina Neidhart
19-year-old Austrian left wing Nina Neidhart featured in the top 10 scorers at the Women’s 19 EHF Euro 2019 in Hungary.
Her move from Hypo Niederösterreich to THC can be viewed as part of a logical progression, and it will be interesting to see if Neidhart can impress at this level in European club handball so early in her career.
A night to remember
Thüringer HC’s EHF Champions League 2017/18 season ultimately ended with what may have seemed an all-too-familiar outcome: elimination in the main round. However, the away match against SG BBM Bietigheim will live with THC fans for a long time.
Having pushed Metz close in the previous round of matches and with Iveta Luzumova (now Koresova) in sensational form, Thüringer HC travelled to Bietigheim with hopes of registering an away Champions League win against their domestic rivals.
A fast start saw Thüringer HC lead 6:1 after seven minutes – a margin that Bietigheim would not fully erase. With Luzumova at her best, orchestrating the attack from the centre, THC coasted to a massive 13-goal win (34:21).
Newcomers and departures
Newcomers: Petra Blazek (SCM Gloria Buzau), Ines Khouildi (SCM Gloria Buzau), Nina Neidhart (Hypo Niederösterreich), Emma Ekenman Fernis (IK Sävehof), Asli Iskit (Kastamonu Beledyesi), Markéta Jerábková (ERD HC), Kerstin Kündig (LC Brühl), Arwen Rühl, Jolina Huhnstock, Laura Kuske (all Thüringer HC U19)
Departures: Emily Bölk (FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria), Alicia Stolle (FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria, Ann Cathrin Giegerich (DVSC Schäffler), Jana Krause (retired), Jovana Syzdovska (H.C. Dunarea Braila) Alexandra Mazucco (SV Halle Neustadt), Mikaela Mässing (CS Minaur Baia Mare), Almudena Rodriguez (CS Gloria Bistrita), Mia Biltoft (Retired), Anouk Nieuwenweg (Neckarsulmer SU)
EHF Champions League:
Quarter-finals (1): 2014/15
Main round (5): 2013/14, 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19
Group matches (2): 2011/12, 2012/13
Quarter-finals (1): 2019/20
Winners (1): 2008/09
German league: 7 titles (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)
German cup: 3 titles (2011, 2013, 2019)