Against all oddsArticle
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Hypo’s youngsters are close to the Main Round of the EHF Champions League.

Against all odds

Despite two defeats in the season´s beginning Hypo NÖ can advance to the next phase of the EHF Champions League with a victory against German Champion Leipzig.

Hypo´s coach Martin Matuschkowitz wants to take advantage of this great opportunity. Hypo NÖ already has one foot in the Main Round. Does that come as a surprise to you?

Martin Matuschkowitz: Well, we had a turbulent summer after Gunnar Prokop left the club. Several ‘promised’ players didn’t materialize, and so we started to work with some of our youngsters.

We also had massive problems with injuries at the beginning of the season. Now, the young players are well integrated, and they’ve nicely gelled with the more experienced ones. You started this year’s EHF Champions League campaign with two defeats. What has changed since then?

Martin Matuschkowitz: We had a very exhausting pre-season preparation, during which we travelled over 6000 kms and participated in a series of tournaments. It was a good experience, but also very tiring and an unusually hard preparation for a woman’s club.

On the other hand, Hypo has always been a club that improves continuously during the CL phase, and the same thing is happening right now. We’re getting better and better with every game. Hypo is one of the youngest teams in the CL campaign. How difficult has it been for you and your players to compete in the queen’s class? Is the use of young, Austrian players the right way to succeed in the championship?

Martin Matuschkowitz: If you don´t count Alla Matuschkowitz, we surely do have the youngest team in season 2010/2011!

Obviously, our Brazilian internationals, Dani Piedade and Ale Nascimento are much-loved by our supporters.

However, I feel that opening up our club to young, local players give us other opportunities, as our fans can identify more with them, and they can follow a player’s career from a young age onwards.

Since the pre-season, the experienced players have supported the younger ones to the best of their ability, so we have a great unity within the club and this is bringing us success. Let’s focus on the decisive game against Germany’s Leipzig. You surprisingly beat them on their own court - what happened?

Martin Matuschkowitz: I’m confident that they underestimated us and already thought they’d got the two points before the game started.

Also, the injury to their line player Anne Müller gave us a good chance to surprise them.

In this away game, we had a fantastic Olga Sanko between the sticks, and Gabi Rotis played her ‘match of the season’, contributing greatly to our victory. What might be the best recipe to defeat Leipzig at the weekend?

Martin Matuschkowitz: We’ll need to interfere with their attacking game, and pay special attention to Karolina Kudlacz, as she’s one of their most accomplished goal-scorers.

We must also be disciplined regarding our game plan, focusing especially on defence.

ehfCL: Has the goal you set at the beginning of the season changed, and would you be too unhappy if you fail at the weekend, but continue in the Cup Winners’ Cup?

Martin Matuschkowitz: It doesn’t make sense to change your aims during the season. If we’d have said in the beginning that our aim is to only reach the third spot and then to participate in the Cup Winners’ Cup, we’d now have some problems inside the player’s heads, as they wouldn’t be able to concentrate on the crucial game against Leipzig.

Despite all the massive problems we faced at the season’s beginning, I think that we are on a par with any other team in our CL group. Itxako was the favourite for the first place, but except for them, it’s a group where anyone can beat anyone.

I’m happy about the way we’ve played and now I’d like to take advantage of this great chance to advance to the Main Round.

This would be immensely important for the development of the young players, and for the continuity of the work we started back in September.

The EHF Women's Champions League game of Group B, Hypo Niederösterreich (AUT) vs. HC Leipzig (GER) on Saturday 20 November 2010 at 20:25 hrs (local time), will be broadcast live on our free-of-charge web stream on

TEXT: Márk Hegedüs