THW = Totally Hungry for WinningArticle
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VELUX EHF Champions League countdown, part 8: THW Kiel (GER)

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THW = Totally Hungry for Winning

Their series is impressive and should strike fear into the hearts of the opponents: THW Kiel Kiel played 14 preparation matches before the start of the season – including ones against top opponents like Montpellier, Kobenhavn or Veszprem – and won every single one of them.

The last test match was the German Super Cup final which ended with a 24:23 victory over Hamburg, their old and new rival for several titles in national and international competitions.

Recovering of the hangover

THW is back on track after last season when they missed the German championship title and the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne.

The current German Cup winner, IHF Super Globe champion and German record champion and cup winner is eagerly struggling for the objective: "We are aiming to win three titles next season," coach Alfred Gislason said.

The same players

The great advantage of the EHF Champions League winners 2007 and 2010 is that their team is absolutely well-rehearsed. For the first time in 23 years no squad changes were undergone, no player left, no newcomer came.

Players like Kim Anderson or Daniel Narcisse have recovered completely from long-term injuries.

Well-filled arena

But not only the squad, but also the season budget remained the same with 9.5 million Euro. Once again Kiel almost sold all possible 10.000 season tickets, and also all VELUX EHF Champions League matches will be sold out with 10.250 spectators in the Arena.

Extraordinary preparation

The start of the preparation phase was quite different to years before, as THW enjoyed one week on the island La Reunion (near Madagascar), home of their player Daniel Narcisse.

But then Gislason tightened the strings. "It was the toughest preparation programme in my whole life," Kim Anderson said.

Even as some players like World Handball Player Filip Jicha had minor injuries, the THW squad played outstanding already before the start of the season.

Top group opponents

But in the VELUX EHF Champions League Kiel will have to face top opponents like Montpellier (with their former players Karabatic and Kavticnik), Kobenhavn or Leon.

Gislason expects "a strong group with high level opponents" and says: "Montpellier belong to the best teams of the world, as Kobenhavn, whose main sponsor Jesper Nielsen will invest even more in this team, as he dreams of winning the VELUX EHF Champions League. Also Szeged and Leon have strong squads, but we will not lament."

Captain wants titles

Team captain Markus Ahlm shares those high hopes: "We are looking forward to this challenge in this strong VELUX EHF Champions League group.

We want to play more consistently and if we remain untroubled by injuries, we have all chances to win titles this season, also the VELUX EHF Champions League."

Changes in management

As the sportive part of THW remained the same, the only changes occurred in the administration: Due to a severe burn-out, manager Uli Derad quit his job and was successed by Klaus Elwardt, a former club board member.

"THW Kiel has the entitlement to win titles. Without injuries, the team of Alfred Gislason has all chances to win," Elwardt says.

Also assistant coach Ole Viken left the club to return to his home country Norway. His job is currently vacant.

Three questions to coach Alfred Gislason What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the VELUX EHF Champions League - concerning your objectives and your group opponents?

Alfred Gislason: We want to play an attractive and successful style of handball. If we are lucky and have no injuries, then we have all chances to win titles in this season and also the VELUX EHF Champions League. What does the participation in the VELUX EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?

Alfred Gislason: It is great pleasure for us to compete with the best handball teams in the world. It is a challenge to play in the VELUX EHF Champions League and to reach the EHF FINAL4 in Cologne. What teams are your personal favourites to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 and for winning the title this season – and why?

Alfred Gislason: I think it will be same as in the years before: German and Spanish teams will be the favourites, but probably there could be a surprise team.

Club facts – THW Kiel (GER)

Newcomers: -
Left the club: Jerome Fernandez (Toulouse, end of last season)
Coach: Alfred Gislason, since 2008

Qualification for the 2011/2012 VELUX EHF Champions League season: German runners-up

VELUX EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2011/2012 season): 15
Winner (2): 2006/2007, 2009/2010
Final (3): 1999/2000, 2007/2008, 2008/2009
Semi Final (2): 1996/1997, 2000/2001
Quarterfinal (5): 1998/1999, 2002/2003, 2004/2005, 2005/2006, 2010/2011
Group Phase (2): 1994/1995, 1995/1996

EHF Cup records: Winner 1997/1998, 2001/2002, 2003/2004

German champion: 1957, 1962, 1963, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
German Cup winner: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011

Further information

Find more information on THW Kiel HERE.

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TEXT: Björn Pazen