Tatabánya want name for themselves in Europe
With two quarter-final appearances in the EHF Cup in recent years, Grundfos Tatabánya KC have become regulars in the second tier but not much more than that.
With proven international class and some of Hungary’s top talents, could this be the season the Tigers enjoy a breakthrough season in Europe?
- storied club which enjoyed success in the 70s and 80s
- in recent years have become the perennial bronze medallists in Hungary
- huge turnover in the squad this summer with 12 players leaving and nine coming in
- regularly on the verge of breaking through at this level with two recent EHF Cup quarter-final appearances
The burning question – can Tatabánya step out of the shadow of Hungary’s big two?
In a domestic scene dominated by Veszprém and Szeged, Grundfos Tatabánya KC have cemented their place as the best of the rest in recent years with five consecutive third place finishes in the Hungarian league.
While the two big dogs are busy fighting in the EHF Champions League, Vladan Matic’s men have been making a name for themselves in the second tier, reaching the EHF Cup quarter-final on two occasions. But reaching the final tournament has eluded them and that is what you feel will properly put them in the spotlight.
Achieving that this season appears difficult as an incredible 12 players left the club over the summer, including perennial top scorer Milos Vujovic to Berlin, while nine players were brought in. Mixed fortunes in early league games suggests the squad is still gelling and it is still too early to know whether they can finally make the leap to become true contenders at this level.
Sharpshooter - Zsolt Balogh
Zsolt Balogh’s presence in this team is a pure treat for Tatabánya fans and the European League. After tearing it up for Szeged in the EHF Champions League over five seasons, the 31-year-old moved in the summer of 2019 in a sign of Tatabánya’s ambition.
The right back is known for having the ability to score from almost any situation, which he proved is still very much the case at January’s EHF EURO 2020 and an in-form Balogh will be a nightmare for any opponent.
Bright hope - Mátyás Györi
After bursting onto the scene at the Junior World Championship in 2017, many would have already expected Mátyás Györi to be a household name at the age of 23 but nothing is certain at this level.
His first and only season with Veszprém was cut short with a knee injury and another one kept him from making an impact with Tatabánya until 2019, when he finally found his mojo again. Last season, Györi became a key member of the squad, running the attack as a playmaker. Györi forms an intriguing and promising centre back pairing with Ádám Juhász which should thrive in this competition.
New blood - Piotr Wyszomirski
Following four seasons with German club TBV Lemgo, the Polish goalkeeper has returned to what must feel like his second home as he has joined his third different Hungarian club.
Wyszomirski’s previous spells with Csurgó and Szeged mean it should not take him too long to settle and begin to make an impact which will be incredibly valuable to his new club. The 32-year-old has experience at the highest level, having reached the Rio 2016 semi-finals and winning world bronze in 2015 and his signing stands out among the nine new arrivals.
A night to remember – beating the Bundesliga stars
Tatabánya enjoyed their best season in the EHF Cup in 2018/19, but their group phase did not get off to a bright start after giving up a healthy half-time lead and losing to RK Nexe in their first home match.
They could not afford another home loss, particularly with Bundesliga side Hannover-Burgdorf coming to town in round 3. Tatabánya were slow out of the blocks and found themselves in early trouble as Hannover jumped to a 3:0 lead.
Right wing Timo Kastening and playmaker Morten Olsen were unstoppable for the German side, scoring five and four goals respectively as their side jumped to a 10:6 lead after 14 minutes.
After Milos Vujovic and Adam Juhasz helped bring the Hungarian side level, 16:16 at half-time, they changed their approach by slowing their rhythm and killing Hannover’s momentum. Tatabánya took control of the game, going on a 4:1 run to open up a lead they would hold on to and win 28:25.
That victory set them up to win their group and progress to the quarter-final, where they narrowly lost out to TTH Holstebro, 52:50 on aggregate.
Arrivals and departures
Newcomers: Nándor Bognár (NEKA), Dávid Debreczeni (FTC KN KFT), Bence Hornyák (Telekom Veszprém), Michal Martin Konecny (SC Sala), Balázs Molnár (SBS Eger), Richárd Nemes (Budakalász Kft), Stefan Sunajko (IK Sävehof), Piotr Wyszomirski (TBV Lemgo), Bence Zdolik (Balatonfüredi KSE)
Left the club: Ádám Borbély (Veszprémi KKFT), Uros Borzas (Fenix Toulouse Handball), Marko Davidovic (CSM Bucuresti), Xavér Deményi (FTC KN KFT), János Dénes (Balatonfüredi KSE), Bence Ernei, Ákos Pásztor (Ceglédi KKSE), András Szász (CS Dinamo Bucuresti), Vitaly Komogorov (HC Dobrogea Sud Constanta), Vladimir Vranjes (HC Meshkov Brest), Milos Vujovic (Füchse Berlin), Milos Bozovic (HC PPD Zagreb)
Quarter-final (2): 2016/17, 2018/19
Last 16 (1): 2010/11
Hungarian league: 4 titles (1974, 1978, 1979, 1984)
Hungarian cup: 2 titles (1969, 1978)