New project, old goalArticle
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VELUX EHF Champions League countdown, part 8: KIF Kolding København

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New project, old goal

Take a traditionally strong club and add top players of a club which came to an end due to a bankruptcy – this was the recipe, how the new Danish powerhouse KIF Kolding København was founded in 2012.

After AG København was out, some players like Kasper Hvidt, Joachim Boldsen and others decided that this should not have been the end of successful handball in the Danish capital.

So they joined forces with Danish record champions KIF Kolding – and right in their first season they set some signs.

Kolding København finished the regular season of the Danish league on top, qualifying for the Group Phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League. In the finals of the league they were – surprisingly clearly – beaten by Aalborg and became runners-up. Additionally, they missed the EHF Cup Finals in Nantes even closer after an aggregate one goal defeat by another domestic rivals Team Tvis Holstebro in the quarter-finals.

Now – and after signing the two former Champions League winners Albert Rocas (Barcelona) and Torsten Laen (Füchse Berlin) as newcomers, the aims are high in Kolding and København: Reaching the final tournament of the Danish cup, the final of the league and at least the first part of the knock-out stage of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

But Kolding-København have been drawn in a tough group with top opponents including the two participants of the previous VELUX EHF FINAL4 Kiel and Kielce, the uprising French stars from Dunkerque, Płock and FC Porto.

Heading to top eight of Europe

Club president Jens Boesen, father of KIF back court ace Lasse Boesen, is aware, but also optimistic.

“We are in the strongest of all groups but we have the goal to go to the next stage. Even as it is difficult to have a good draw for the Last 16 it is open what will happen from there on. In a full line up I think we belong to the best ten teams in Europe, but injuries and draw results have a strong impact in the Champions League,” he commented.

Legendary goalkeeper Kasper Hvidt shares the hopes of the president.

“The ambition of the KIF Kolding København project was to have a  team which is supposed to be among the top 5 to 8 in Europe, and with new players like Laen and Rocas we have a chance to fulfil that ambition," he said.

"We have the quality and many of the players have been among the best in Europe, so we can go all the way - but a lot of teams can do that. We will do our best in every match,“ Hvidt added.

Added to the well-known newcomers, KIF also have a new coach: Henrik Kronborg returned to the bench, where he was already in the 2011/12 season.

He arrives from the Danish Federation, where he was coach of the junior national team and assistant coach of Ulrik Wilbek in the men’s team.

But Kronborg is facing some major injury problems in the start of the season.

Three times Champions League winner Kim Andersson (formerly THW Kiel) is out until the beginning of October – and the same is expected for Simon Jensen. Boris Schnuchel, the club record holder with almost 600 club matches, is out until Christmas.

Three questions to coach Henrik Kronborg:

What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the VELUX EHF Champions League -  concerning your objectives and your group opponents?

Henrik Kronborg: I have the feeling that it will be very tough group. The two teams from the 2013 edition of the VELUX EHF FINAL4,  Kiel and Kielce, are definitely favourites to take the two top positions in our group.

I am sure that we can beat all opponents, but a lot of matches in the group will be tough and close and I think the best five teams in our group will finish very equal in the final ranking. We have the goal to go to the next stage, so we need to finish among the best four teams.

What does the participation in the VELUX EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?

Henrik Kronborg: For our new project KIF Kolding København being part of the VELUX EHF Champions League means everything – and we need to qualify every year.

It is of course a big challenge because the Danish league includes a lot of good teams. But we have the squad this year to manage both competitions in a successful way.

What teams are your personal favourites to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 and for winning the title this season – and why?

Henrik Kronborg: I think that every one in European handball rates FC Barcelona as the huge favourite to win the VELUX EHF FINAL4 this year. The last season’s finalist including their newcomers Lazarov and Karabatic will put big pressure on all opponents.

My favourites to follow Barcelona to Cologne are Kiel, Paris, Veszprém and Flensburg. Maybe Kielce have a chance, but all teams which are facing us have to play well to pass us.

KIF Kolding København (DEN)

Coach: Henrik Kronborg (since 2013, successor of Peter Bredsdorff-Larsen)
Newcomers (including former club): Torsten Laen (Füchse Berlin), Albert Rocas (FC Barcelona), Lasse Andersson (TMS Ringsted)
Left the club (including new club): Frederik Børm (Skjern Håndbold)

Qualification for the 2013/14 VELUX EHF Champions League season: Danish runners-up

VELUX EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2013/2014 season): 11
Semi Final (1): 2001/02
Quarter-Final (1): 2002/03
Last 16 (6): 2003/04, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2009/10, 2010/11
Last 32 (1): 1993/94
Group Phase (1): 1994/95

Other EC records:
Cup Winners’ Cup: Semi-finalists 1999/2000, Quarter-finalists 2007/08
EHF Cup: Quarter-finalists 2012/13

Danish champions: 12 times (1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009)
Danish Cup winners: 7 times (1989, 1993, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007)

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br