Not easy, but excitingArticle
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VELUX EHF Champions League countdown, part 12: KS Vive Targi Kielce (POL)

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Not easy, but exciting

When all their opponents in the "hammer group B" of the VELUX EHF Champions League will start at zero at the beginning of the Group Stage, KS Vive Targi Kielce will already have 130 playing minutes on their account.

Both matches were on the edge, between heaven and hell.

Not directly qualified

After surprisingly missing the Polish title in the finals against Orlen Wisla Plock, Kielce had to take the path through the VELUX EHF Champions League Wild Card Tournament in order to reach the Group Stage for the third straight time.

The Polish runners-up continued a series in those tournaments, as since the first edition in 2009, always the hosts of the tournament snatched the ticket to the Group Stage (Leon, Rhein Neckar Löwen, now Kielce).

Wild Card Tournament winners

But it was a long, tough and winding road for the team of head coach Bogdan Wenta to be among the 24 best teams. In the semi-final of the tournament they beat Valladolid from Spain 21:19 to reach the final against Löwen.

And after a thrilling game including extra time the Kielce team celebrated with their fans, after they had tamed the lions 32:30.

Tough group opponents - again

But now the Poles face a similar situation as last season, as they are part of a "hammer group" again.

In the 2010/2011 edition – when they missed the knock-out stage - they had to face Barcelona, Kiel, Löwen, Chambery and Celje.

Their opponents in this season are on an equal level: Madrid, Chekhovskie, Veszprem, Berlin and Bjerringbro-Silkeborg.

Papaj hopes for Group Stage points

Not an easy, but an exciting situation, says Kielce’s marketing manager Pawel Papaj: "Like last year we are in the strongest group of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

Every game in this ‘elite group’ will be a great spectacle, but it will also be hard to win those games.

We fully respect our opponents, but of course we are trying to grab our chances, to fight for every point.

Every year we become stronger, gain more experience. Our big advantage is the arena in Kielce and our supporters, who create a great atmosphere and help the team in difficult moments."

President demands fighting spirit

Club president Bertus Servaas shares those impressions: "Our experienced team knows what it is like to compete with the best.

The team creates a collective, and I hope that in the VELUX EHF Champions League we manage to show what we are able to do.

You can lose a match, but the most important thing for me is always to fight until the end, and to show character."

Big new names

That the club squad is getting stronger can easily be seen in the team roster.

Kielce signed international top players like the former World Handball Player of the year, goalkeeper Slawomir Szmal, playmaker Grzegorz Tkaczyk (both from Rhein Neckar Löwen), the Croatian international Denis Buntic, arriving from Spain or the Icelandic international Thorir Olafsson from Germany.

On the other hand World and Olympic champion Mirza Dzomba (Croatia) finished his career and Danish left back Hendrik Knudsen transferred to Germany.

Captain believes in his team

Due to this team roster constellation, new team captain Grzegorz Tkaczyk is confident that Kielce can be one of the surprises in the new season of the VELUX EHF Champions League:

"Every team in our group is really strong. I am sure that in every match we will fight until the end.

Already during the Wild Card Tournament we showed that we are a strong team that can play very well. This is what we want to show during the Group Phase again."

Own TV programme

To increase their promotion throughout the whole country, Vive Targi Kielce will be starting their own television programme in some weeks, where everyone will find news and more information connected with the team.

"Our marketing department is still looking for further ways to develop," Pawel Papaj says.

The Polish club is currently working on a new website, and also started a new campaign with two branded buses in the city of Kielce.

Furthermore the club is part of the major promotion of their home region Swietokrzyskie.

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

Bogdan Wenta: We have a very strong group of five well-known teams. For us, this means an excellent opportunity to promote European top handball in our country. What does the participation in the VELUX EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?

Bogdan Wenta: The VELUX EHF Champions League contains Europe’s elite clubs. It always leads to competition with a stronger opponent.

Even if we lose, these matches will increase the performance level of our team. What teams are your personal favourites to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 and for winning the title this season – and why?

Bogdan Wenta: Atletico Madrid, THW Kiel, FC Barcelona, ​​MKB Veszprem, HSV Hamburg – as those teams have remained on the highest level in this competition for a long time.

Club facts – KS Vive Targi Kielce (POL)

Newcomers: Denis Buntic (Ademar Leon/ESP), Slawomir Szmal (Rhein Neckar Löwen/GER), Grzgegorz Tkyczak (Rhein Neckar Löwen/GER), Thorir Olafsson (TuS N-Lübbecke/GER), Bartolomiej Tomczak (MKS Zaglębie Lubin), Mateusz Przybylski (Kielce junior team)

Left the club: Mirza Dzomba (end of career), Rafal Glińskin (Stal Mielec), Kazimierz Kotliński (Warmia Anders-Group Spolem Olsztyn), Henrik Knudsen (HSG Ahlen-Hamm/GER), Vitalij Nat (NMC POWEN Zabrze), Pawel Podsiadlo (Sélestat Alsace/FRA), Krzysztof Szczecina (MMTS Kwidzyn), Daniel Żółtak (Warmia Anders-Group Społem Olsztyn)

Coach: Bogdan Wenta, since 2008

Qualification for the 2011/2012 VELUX EHF Champions League season: winner of the Wildcard Qualification Tournament, Polish runners-up

VELUX EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2011/2012 season): 9
Last 16 (3): 1993/94, 1994/95, 2009/10
Last 32 (2): 1996/97, 1998/99
Group Matches (3): 1999/2000, 2003/04, 2010/11
Other EC records: 11 participations in other ECs

Polish champion: 1993, 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2009, 2010
Polish Cup winner: 1985, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011

Further information

Find more information on KS Vive Targi Kielce HERE.

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TEXT: Björn Pazen