Gislason plays down title chancesArticle
«Go back

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Kiel coach happy to be in Cologne after a season of transition for his squad

Gislason plays down title chances

At every VELUX EHF FINAL4 event at least one Icelandic coach was on the bench for one of the four participants and for the fourth time Alfred Gislason keeps this tradition alive and is aiming to take the trophy with THW Kiel for the third time after winning the title in 2010 and 2012.

Gislason is still the only coach to have won the EHF Champions League title with two different clubs, as he led German side SC Magdeburg in 2002, the first non-Spanish winner of this competition.

After a disappointing fourth rank in 2013, things have changed at Kiel – and Gislason is even happy to be in Cologne after a season of transition. In this exclusive interview with, he hands over the title of favourites for the first semi-final to opponents Veszprem. You are part of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 for the fourth time. What are the club’s expectations in 2014 after winning the trophy twice in 2010 and 2012?

Alfred Gislason: This season our only goal is to reach the final, but we have to say that Veszprem are the clear favourites against us. Our team is in a state of transition. Last season, with our former team, we had hoped for the title, but we did not manage it. This year we are absolutely happy to be in Cologne, we could not expect reaching the final destination when we started this season. Why do you see Veszprem as the favourite?

Alfred Gislason: They have strengthened their squad with numerous top players, they have more alternatives on the bench than we do and the team has much more experienced players compared to Kiel. While Veszprem are VELUX EHF FINAL4 debutants, Kiel are part of the event for the fourth time – an advantage of experience?

Alfred Gislason: No, when the starting whistle is blown, there are no more advantages like this. And look upon the Veszprem team, players like Nagy and Ilic have been part of the event several times.

However, the crowd might be a factor and a special influence. The audience plays a big role in this event, as you could see last year, when even THW fans supported Hamburg in their final against Barcelona. When mentioning last season, your team had beaten Veszprem in the quarter-finals. Is this a good omen in Cologne?

Alfred Gislason: No, as both teams are different to last season. We lost some top players, Veszprem signed some top players. But in terms of tactics, the match in Veszprem in 2013 was one of our best in recent years. However, Veszprem are much more rehearsed now. What influence will former THW player Momir Ilic have in the game?

Alfred Gislason: Momir Ilic plays a highly important role in the Veszprem squad. They had some problems on the left back position – and they solved all of them by this signing of a perfect player in defence and attack. And another player of your team, Christian Zeitz, will join Veszprem next season after his final matches for THW Kiel in Cologne. Is this a potential problem for you, him and the team?

Alfred Gislason: Anyone who knows Christian, knows that it will be a match like all others for him, nothing special. He signed the contract last summer and since then he has proven his absolute professional attitude giving everything in every match for Kiel. He is absolutely focussed on his tasks. Before arriving in Cologne, THW Kiel fight for the German championship title in the duel with Rhein Neckar Löwen – both equal on points – on Saturday. Is it a problem in preparation for Cologne?

Alfred Gislason: From Sunday on we have one week time to focus only on this event. Of course I already have in my head what needs to be done. But until our last league match against Füchse Berlin, only the Bundesliga is important.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor