“To keep cool in a hot atmosphere”Article
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Markus Ahlm in an exclusive interview to ehfCL.com: “We are not through, we have to concentrate 100% in Barcelona!”

“To keep cool in a hot atmosphere”

Last season he picked up an injury in the semi-final against Portland and he had to celebrate the title on the tribunes, not on court. This season, Markus Ahlm, the pivot of THW Kiel, is eager to reach the final.

Ahlm doesn't talk about the final either...However, the Swedish international knows that even a ten-goal lead from in the first semi-final match would not be too much when you play the second leg in Barcelona. In an exclusive interview with ehfCL.com, Ahlm talks about the chances of his club to survive the atmosphere of the famous Palau Blaugrana in Barcelona on Sunday.

Eurohandball.com: If someone would have told you a week ago that Kiel would beat Barcelona 41:31, what would you have told him?

Ahlm: I never expected such a result. We knew before the match that we have a chance to win, but we did not think about a ten-goal difference. This is great!

Eurohandball.com: Your coach, Noka Serdarusic, said afterwards that this was one of the best THW matches ever. Do you agree?

Ahlm: I can only talk about the time I played in Kiel, and by looking at this time, it was one of the best matches. There was a great atmosphere in the hall and we played on an outstanding level.

Eurohandball.com: On Sunday you will play the second leg in Barcelona. Do you have those ten goals always on your mind?

The Swedish line player is the top scorer of his team in the CLAhlm: I don’t think so, because for us the match starts from 0:0. We have to concentrate 100 percent, because it can happen very fast, that you lose even a ten goal difference. Especially when you play in Barcelona...

I played once against Barca. We started the home match with a five-goal difference and we lost by six goals away. I will think about this before the match.

Eurohandball.com: Will THW play full speed or will you play slower than normal now that there is a big difference?

Ahlm: I’ve been playing in Kiel for five years and there has never been a match we played slower than usual only looking at the result. We always want to win, even in Barcelona. Therefore we will play at full speed.

Eurohandball.com: Which Barcelona players will you focus on Sunday?

Ahlm: Iker Romero had a great match last Sunday in Kiel and he will be one of the key players again. He will guide the other players. Besides him, Demetrio Lozano played very well, but him we already knew before. We especially have to take care not to be overran by the speed of Barca. And we have to keep cool in the hot atmosphere of Blaugrana.

Eurohandball.com: Last season you missed the final matches because of a shoulder injury. Is this a special motivation for you?

Ahlm: Yes, of course. Yet, I don’t think about the final. It’s a hard way to go there, but it would be great if we would reach it again with Markus Ahlm on court and not on the tribune.

The Swedish missed the final last year and could only celebrate wearing a suitEurohandball.com: This means, that you don’t have a “favourite opponent” for the final?

Ahlm: No, I’ll talk about the final when we will have reached it for certain. Otherwise I don’t mind which team will reach the final. All the four want this big success, but only two can go on to the final stage.

Eurohandball.com: THW Kiel just won the German cup, besides this your team are the new number one in the Bundesliga after beating Nettelstedt on Wednesday. You have great chances to reach the CL Final. Is it possible for THW to win all the three titles again?

Ahlm: We have the chance, and we will give all we can to reach this and win all three titles. Maybe it sounds funny, but I think it’s easier to win the CL as there are “only” three more matches to win. In Germany we have even more matches and some will be very tough, for example our match in Hamburg next week.

In 2007 we won five titles including the German Super Cup and EHF Champions Trophy. It would be great to win these titles again, but it will be very tough work and also you need some luck, especially to avoid injuries.

TEXT: Björn Pazen