Kiel: Question marks before the finalsArticle
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The future of Karabatic and Kavticnik is uncertain, but THW is looking for successors.

Kiel: Question marks before the finals

THW Kiel won the German championship title with a dominance never seen before. They also became German Cup Winners, and now THW Kiel are going for the triple.

The settings will be superb once again“We want to win the Champions League again,” this is the slogan in Kiel before the finals against Ciudad Real.

“We want to take revenge for last season,” captain Stefan Lövgren said. For him the matches against the Spanish champion will be the last international games of his long career. He will return to his home country Sweden and teach handball.

Though the team plays “intergalactic” handball, nobody can be certain whether all the players will stay with THW the next season. Lövgren announced the end of his career in 2008; Nikola Karabatic should become his successor as a playmaker. But the situation has changed and it seems that Karabatic will play his last matches for Kiel too.

In many interview the Frenchman said that he intends to leave Kiel. The main reason for him is the sacking of former coach Noka Serdarusic in June 2008. “Kiel played with false cards,” Karabatic said once.

After his transfer to the Rhein Neckar Löwen, where Serdarusic should have become the new coach, was cancelled he had offers from Ciudad Real, Barcelona and Montpellier. And it seems that the French champions have the best cards in the “Karabatic poker”.

Thinking about the futureNikola’s brother Luca is playing there, while his father Branko is member of the coaching staff.

“I want to go to Montpellier to play with my family and win the Champions League,” Karabatic announced on his website.

He doesn’t want to go alone. Wing player Vid Kavticnik would follow him.

“We won’t change our opinion,” Kavticnik said. According to his manager, the contracts are ready for signing for both players in Montpellier. But as “K&K” still have valid contract with Kiel, Montpellier have to pay transfer fee. According to the information of several German papers, THW want to receive 1.2 to 1.3 million Euro for both.

Should Montpellier pay, Kiel will have to find new players. As they have signed so far only a young talented player, Aron Palmarsson (Iceland), they need players with international experience.

The first option to replace Karabatic seems to be the Serbian international Momir Illic from EHF Cup finalist VfL Gummersbach. Illic has a contract until 2010. His current club would need money as they needed an 800,000 Euro transfer fee for their coach Alfred Gislasson before this season.

VfL want to receive 400,000 to 500,000 Euro for Illic. Another name is Marko Vujin, who has just extended his contract with MKB Veszprem until 2012 or Mariusz Jurasik from the Rhein Neckar Löwen, who just signed a contract in Kielce (Poland).

In addition, THW are looking for a new wing player. They focus on the Croatian Ivan Cupic (Gorenje Velenje), who’s just recovering from a torn knee ligament injury.

However, all these question marks – or newspaper headlines dealing with the Kiel case – apparently do not disturb the players on the court.

“We’ll give all the answers on the court with the means of the sport,” captain Lövgren says before the season’s highlight against Ciudad Real.

Regarding the injuries, Kiel will miss left hander Kim Andersson, while pivot Marcus Ahlm will play despite his finger injury that he picked up in the German Cup Final against Gummersbach.

TEXT: Björn Pazen