Playing in the "home of handball"Article
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Talant Dujshebaev talks about the semi-final in Hamburg.

Playing in the "home of handball"

It will be a bit like the TV programme called “Dinner for one” when Hamburg and Ciudad Real will meet in the semi-finals of the Champions League. “The same story as last year”, could be a headline for these games. Ciudad Real coach Talant Dujshebaev talks in the interview with about this, and he’s aware of the strength of the team and the atmosphere in Hamburg. Ciudad reached the finals here in a dramatic game last season. Talant, you’re in Hamburg for the second consecutive time for a semi-final match. When you look back on last season’s match, what are do you remember first?

Dujshebaev had many reasons to celebrate with Ciudad RealTalant Dujshebaev: It was really hard work for us. The spectators in Color Line Arena made a lot of noise and created a great atmosphere – this was incredible good for all. The match was a real stress for us, but at the end we reached the finals. So I have good memories. What were your first thoughts when the draw brought your club together with HSV again?

Talant Dujshebaev: Before the draw it was obvious that we will face a very strong opponent. Like Hamburg in the last season, this year Rhein Neckar Löwen reached the semi-finals for the first time. Even as they have less international experience, we knew that a match against them wouldn’t be easy either. And HSV are – apart from Kiel and Ciudad Real – the best team in the world. Last season the semi-finals were two German and two Spanish clubs. This season Ciudad Real are the only participant from Spain. Why do you think it is like that?

Talant Dujshebaev: It’s a bit like David against Goliath. The German Bundesliga is the best league in the world. The German clubs reached all semi-finals in European Cup competitions. So for a Spanish club it’ll be very tough to make it to the Final. But I’m very proud of my team that we came so far up. Are you satisfied with this season?

The two top teams will meet once againTalant Dujshebaev: I’m very satisfied. Like all international top clubs – Barcelona, Portland, Veszprém, Kiel or Hamburg – we played without a break for 23 months. Apart from the domestic leagues and the Champions League, all players were there at the Olympics and at the World Championship. I’m sad about this, as it’s crazy to have so many matches. But as I said, I’m proud of what my players do and how they fight. And until the end of this season they will give all they can. After winning the Champions League last year, your club signed two new players, Jerome Fernandez and Luc Abalo. Are you even stronger than last season?

Talant Dujshebaev: It’s too early and too difficult to give a correct answer right now, but I think we have at least the same level as last year. Whether we’re stronger than last season, when we won all possible competitions, I can answer only at the end of the season. What do you expect from the first leg of the semi-finals in Hamburg?

Talant Dujshebaev: I expect great atmosphere. The support of the fans is great in Hamburg, and it’s always great to play when there’s such an atmosphere. From the past when I played in this country I know that Germany is the home of handball. And I know what handball means to the people there. It’ll need a good piece of craftsmanship for us. Do you think that it’s an advantage for Ciudad Real to play the second leg at home?

Talant Dujshebaev: There are different opinions about the order of K.O. matches. In my opinion it’s better to have the first match at home. I had the experience to have the first match away – and these experiences weren’t so positive.

TEXT: Christian Pöhls / Björn Pazen