One team for three leaguesArticle
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VELUX EHF Men’s Champions League countdown, part 23: Tatran Prešov (SVK)

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One team for three leagues

Competing in the national championship and the VELUX EHF Champions League just isn’t enough for Tatran Prešov. So the Slovak champions also take part of the Hungarian League. Last season they ranked third below the two other VELUX EHF Champions League participants Veszprem and Szeged.

As the Prešov results aren’t counted in the official ranking, the federations created a new competition, the "Cup of Friendship" in which then Prešov ranked third.

For the Slovak champion from the Kosice area playing in three leagues isn’t something unusual. Some years ago they played in the Czech league additionally.

This season the team of the former Czech national team coach Rastislav Trtík qualified for the VELUX EHF Champions League group stage for the fourth time by winning the qualification tournament in Bregenz. It only took two matches (and victories against Bregenz and Besiktas), before the qualification was secured.

Coach Trtik was highly impressed and is really looking forward to meet teams like Veszprem, Montpellier, Hamburg, Sävehof and Kolding: "The VELUX EHF Champions League is a great opportunity to test our abilities. This really is the top floor of handball, and for us it is like a different sport. Everything is much more precise and much faster. I am looking forward to it, despite knowing that we are not going to win a lot of matches. But there is still a small chance. We will enter each match with the determination to win, no matter what kind of opponent we meet. Our chance might be bigger if we manage to attract 5,000 spectators into the City Hall."

As the usual hall of Tatran is too small for the VELUX EHF Champions League, the club reserved the right to play in the big city hall in Prešov, as rented from the city for the next 25 years. This arena normally is well-known for concerts, now the Slovaks will see handball inside.

Tatran is a steady guest in European Cup competitions since 1969 as they became Czechoslovak champions for the first time. The biggest success in the early days was qualifying for the semis in the European Champions Cup (the forerunner of the CL) in 1971 against later-on winner Gummersbach.

Nowadays Tatran is the leading team in Slovakia winning the championship and the cup in the last four consecutive years since 2007. Also on international turf they were successful: In 2005 they reached the Last 16 in the VELUX EHF Champions League, again being eliminated by a German team, this time THW Kiel. One year later Tatran was among the best eight teams of the Cup Winner’s Cup.

For the new season the objectives remained the same: Winning all Slovakian competitions, ranking third in Hungarian league – and go for some surprises in the VELUX EHF Champions League.

The best known newcomer in their squad is Czech international Jan Sobol – who nearly wrote EHF Champions League history last season. For his former club Montpellier he scored the 32:27 some seconds before the end of the second leg of the Quarterfinals against Chekhovskie Medvedi – the identical result with which the Russians had won the first leg. That took Montpellier to the decisive penalty shoot-out where they failed and the Russians qualified for the EHF FINAL4 2010 in Cologne.

Another internationally experienced player is Slovak international Radoslav Antl who played in Germany and Switzerland before returning to Tatran in 2009.

Key facts

Newcomers: Jan Sobol (from Montpellier HB), Dominik Krok (from Edymax Bardejov), Martin Briatka (from Bojnice), Radovan Pekár (back from retirement)

Left the club: Marián Huňady (to GWD Minden), Maroš Čorej (to MHK Košice), Ľuboš Kaminský (retired), Martin Mokriš (to Topoľčany)

Coach: Rastislav Trtík (since 2008)

Club records

Czechoslovak champions: 1969, 1971, 1993
Slovak champions: 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
Winner Czechoslovak Cup: 1971, 1974, 1975, 1976
Winner National Cup of Slovakia: 1971, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1981, 1982, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
EHF Champions League Group Stage: 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010
Quarterfinalist Cup Winner’s Cup 2006

Find more information here.

TEXT: Björn Pazen