Kappelin looking forward to family reunionArticle
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INTERVIEW: Swedish goalkeeping stalwart of Aalborg Handball talks to ehfCL.com ahead of his trip to his homeland and matches against Halmstad in Group D of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

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Kappelin looking forward to family reunion

Sunday afternoon, Richard Kappelin will return to his homeland Sweden for a while, when he and his teammates from Danish champions Aalborg Handball are meeting HK DROTT Halmstad in a Scandinavian clash in Group D of the VELUX EHF Champions League group phase.

And for the 30-year-old goalkeeper, who left Sweden in 2010 for a career in Spain and Qatar, it will be a bit like coming home, not least as he is expecting quite a lot of relatives and friends to be present in the Halmstad Arena on Sunday afternoon.

Together with Norwegian international Ole Erevik, Kappelin has formed a solid goalkeeper duo in Aalborg this season and has been a considerable part of the Danish champions' success in the European top flight so far.

Before this season, Richard Kappelin joined Aalborg from Al Gharafa in Qatar, and so far he has seen no reason to regret that step.

ehfCL.com: What has it been like for you to come to Denmark and Aalborg after a career in Spain and Qatar?

Richard Kappelin: It has been really cool. It is a very nice club and a fine city, and considering the confidence I have felt from our head coach Nikolaj Jacobsen and the amount of playing time I have got, I can only be content. So far I have been playing more or less every second match, so that is really fine.

ehfCL.com: Has it been a bit like coming home to come to a Scandinavian country after having lived in Spain and Qatar?

Richard Kappelin: Yes, it is very much like home, as the mentality is not much different here from the Swedish. Of course, one can miss Swedish food in between, but then again it is not far, when I want to visit family and friends in Sweden anymore.

ehfCL.com: In Aalborg you have been succeeding your quite prominent countryman Johan Sjöstrand who is now with THW Kiel. What has it been like to follow in his footsteps?

Richard Kappelin: I have not really given that matter much thought. Nikolaj (Jacobsen) told us goalkeepers ahead of the season that he intended to go on in the same way as last season with Erevik and Sjöstrand, letting the goalkeeper change to play, and that is also the way it has been, and I am really happy with that.

ehfCL.com: What is you cooperation with Ole Erevik like?

Richard Kappelin: It functions really well. We help each other as much as we can, in matches and at training, and that is the way it should be between goalkeepers, I think.

ehfCL.com: So there is really no first-choice keeper?

Richard Kappelin: That is not really for me to say, it is up to the coach to decide, but so far Ole and I have shared the time in goal quite equally. However, one has to prove one's skills all the time. It is always the goalkeeper who is best at the moment who plays, of course.

ehfCL.com: You have played in the EHF Champions League before – with Allingsas in the 2009/10 season. Can you make any use of that experience now with Aalborg?

Richard Kappelin: Yes, I actually see it as an advantage that I have been there before. You know what it is like and how to prepare for the matches, when you have been in the competition before.

That being said, it is something completely difference now, with Aalborg , compared to the time in Allingsas. Aalborg have a much stronger team with international players in almost all positions, and a team who can get much further than we did with Allingsas.

ehfCL.com: On Sunday you will be back in Sweden to play against DROTT Halmstad. What do you expect from that game?

Richard Kappelin: It will obviously be a bit peculiar, as I have not played in Sweden for four years now. There are not many players left who played there, when I did, but it will also be cool to be back, and I expect at least 15 of my friends and relatives to be in the Hamlstad Arena for the match, and I am really looking forward to seeing them all. They have a very fine arena in Halmstad, and it will be great to play there.

ehfCL.com: How do you see the chances against Halmstad?

Richard Kappelin: I suppose we are favourites, but winning away is never easy in the Champions League, and Halmstad have a lot of good players, so we really have to be at our best in order to win. It is a crucial game to us, though, as we need the points in order to not only go on from our group, but also to go on as number three or maybe even number two in the group.

ehfCL.com: How far do you think your team can make it in this season?

Richard Kappelin: It depends a lot on who we meet in the next round. There are really quite a lot of strong teams in the other groups, and also teams who are stronger than Aalborg, but if we have a bit of luck with the draw, I believe that reaching the quarter-final may not be unrealistic.

Further information

Follow the Scandinavian derby Halmstad vs Aalborg live on Sunday at 15:00 hrs local time here

TEXT: Peter Bruun / br