|09.10.2016, 12:00||◄ last page|
Women's EHF Champions League countdown - 5 days to go: Thüringer HC (GER).
Ten different nations, one goal
After the most thrilling season in the women’s German Bundesliga for more than a decade, all remained the same as Thüringer HC took their sixth straight trophy under the guidance of Herbert Muller thanks to a win against their main rivals Leipzig in the last round of matches.
But like last season, the squad has already undergone some pre-season changes with key players such as Eliza Bucheschi (FC Midtjylland), Danick Snelder (FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria), Sonja Frey (Dijon) and Svenja Huber (Dortmund) leaving the club.
Despite these losses in playing staff, internationally-experienced stars like two-time EHF EURO silver medallist with Spain, Macarena Aguilar, and former Györ shooter Szimonetta Planeta arrived in Bad Langensalza, playing for a team which now includes players representing 10 different nations.
In pre-season, THC won the German Super Cup by beating Leipzig again and despite the transition of players in and out they hope for a spot in the Women’s EHF Champions League Main Round, a stage they have reached in the previous three seasons, although Iveta Luzumova and Beate Scheffknecht are currently ruled out due to injury.
“We need more time to practise due to the transition, but our first goal is to proceed to the next stage,” says Thüringer team manager Maik Schenk about their group – group A featuring ZRK Buducnost (MNE), Metz Handball (FRA) and Glassverket IF (NOR).
“Buducnost are the main favourites in our group, but we are supposed to be on the same level with Metz and Glassverket. The daily form will decide those direct duels, but compared to last season, we have the hope to carry more points into the main round.”
Team captain and German international Kerstin Wohlbold expects a strong group but is relishing the opportunity to test herself against Europe’s best.
“To secure a spot in the main round, we mainly have to win our home matches, but we are looking forward to those challenges,” the playmaker says.
“Buducnost will not lose many points from their hands and for us to have a chance against them, they need to have a black day and we must be on more than 100%. Metz we faced in preparation and they are an experienced team, but within reach. Glassverket will play this typical fast Scandinavian style and they are an opponent who we need to beat on home ground if we want to clinch the main round berth.”
Like the players, the club management is eagerly awaiting the start of the international season, as Schenk points out.
“We are expecting big highlights in the Champions League; these matches are the reward for our players. We hope to carry our currently positive atmosphere from domestic competition into the Champions League.”
Thüringer HC (GER)
Qualification for the Women’s EHF Champions League Season 2016/17: German champions
Newcomers: Anika Niederwieser (Esercito Figh Futura Roma), Manon Houette (Fleury), Macarena Aguilar Diaz (Siofok), Maria Kiedrowski (Celle), Szimonetta Planeta (Györ)
Left the club: Danick Snelder (Budapest), Sonja Frey (Dijon), Audrey Deroin (Dijon), Svenja Huber (Dortmund), Natalia Reshetnikova (Russia), Marieke Blase (Bad Wildungen)
Coach: Herbert Müller (since 2010)
Team captain: Kerstin Wohlbold
Opponents in the group matches – Group A: Buducnost, Metz Handball and Glassverket IF
Women’s EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2016/17 season): 6
Main Round: 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16
Group Matches: 2011/12, 2012/13
Other European competition records:
Cup Winners’ Cup: Semi-finalist: 2012/13
Challenge Cup: Finalist: 2008/09
German league: 6 titles (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)
German Cup winner: 2 titles (2011, 2013)
Photo: Thüringer HC
TEXT: Bjorn Pazen/amc