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21.09.2016, 15:10◄ last page     

VELUX EHF Champions League countdown: KS Vive Tauron Kielce (POL). The reigning champions are back but will let themselves get carried away ahead of the group phase.

Hoping to experience Cologne’s magic once again

It was the biggest surprise in the history of the VELUX EHF FINAL4; after going down by eight goals in the middle of the second half of the final against Veszprém, Kielce turned the match around and became the first team to win the trophy after a penalty shoot-out.

Now the Polish champions and their coach Talant Dujshebaev & Co. are the hunted. Dujshebaev is only the second ever coach to win the Champions League with two different clubs (Ciudad Real/Kielce) after Alfred Gislason (Magdeburg/Kiel).

The squad had changed a little, but mainly the new arrivals Darko Djukic (Besiktas) and Filip Ivic (Zagreb) have already proved during the IHF Super Globe in Doha (third place for Kielce) that they fit well in the team.

The only question mark sits over their top signing Slovenian Dean Bombac (coming from Szeged), who returned from the Olympic Games in Rio with a shoulder injury.

On the other hand, three Croats (Buntic and Sego to Szeged, Cupic to Vardar) have left Kielce, while long term team captain Grzegorz Tkaczyk has retired.

His successor is EURO 2016 All-star left back Michal Jurecki; one of half a dozen of Polish national team players, who made it to the Olympic semi-final, under the helm of their ‘double coach’ Dujshebaev.

For Jurecki, the big goal for the next season is to book another ticket to the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne, but “of course the road there will be very hard. We face a lot of top teams in our group such as Vardar, Rhein-Neckar Löwen or MOL-Pick Szeged, all of them we came up against last season. Thus, every game in the group phase will be really difficult. We want to go step by step and we will only think about every next opponent.”

For manager Radoslaw Wasiak, the home matches in the Hala Legionów are “the most important games of the season due to the huge fan interest”. In general, Wasiak (a former Kielce player) expects a “very exciting season for our team after that magic final against Veszprem. Of course, we face some changes in the squad, but I think that new players quickly acclimatised to our family.”

KS Vive Tauron Kielce (POL)

Qualification for the 2016/17 VELUX EHF Champions League season: Polish champions

Newcomers:  Darko Djukic (Besiktas Mogaz HT), Dean Bombac (MOL-Pick Szeged), Filip Ivic (HC Prvo plinarsko drustvo Zagreb), Patryk Walczak (Pogon Szczecin)
Left the club:  Denis Buntic (MOL-Pick Szeged), Ivan Cupic (HC Vardar), Marin Sego (MOL-Pick Szeged), Grzegorz Tkaczyk (retired)
Coach: Talant Dujshebaev (since January 2014)
Team captain: Michal Jurecki

Opponents in the group phase: Löwen, Vardar, Szeged, Zagreb, Brest, Celje and Kristianstad in Group B

VELUX EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2016/17 season): 14
Winner (1): 2015/16
Semi-final (2): 2012/13, 2014/15 (each third ranked in VELUX FINAL 4)
Last 16 (5): 1993/94, 1994/95, 2009/10, 2011/12, 2013/14
Last 32 (2): 1996/97, 1998/99
Group Matches (3): 1999/00, 2003/04, 2010/11

Other EC records:

11 participations in other European Cup competitions

Polish champion: 1993, 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
Polish Cup winner: 1985, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

TEXT: Björn Pazen / bc

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