Two glasses of red wine for the boss and his former assistantArticle
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FEATURE: The close friends and former colleagues Peter David and Michael Roth will be opponents in the third qualification round of the EHF Cup as Presov duel with Melsungen

Two glasses of red wine for Melsungen boss and his former assistant

Just seconds after the draw for Qualification Round 3 of the Men’s EHF Cup was concluded in Vienna, Peter David took his mobile phone and dialled a well-known German number. On the other end of the line he hoped to reach Michael Roth, who at that time was in Hamburg to prepare for a German league match for this team MT Melsungen at HSV.

“When I was in the middle of a training session, a guy from Hamburg told me the result of the draw, and when I looked on my mobile phone and recognised that Peter was the first who tried to inform me about that,” says Roth.

Roth and David are not just opposing coaches, they were colleagues. David was Roth’s assistant in former years and today they are close friends.

The draw result means that the friendship will halt for 60 minutes on two occasions, as David’s club Tatran Presov will face MT Melsungen for a spot in the group phase.

“I really like to see Peter again, but unfortunately one of us will eliminate the other,” Roth says. “This draw is in line with the last draws Tatran Presov had – 0.0 percent of luck at all,” David adds, pointing on the fact that the Slovak champions had to face Meshkov Brest, probably the best of all possible opponents in the qualification for the VELUX EHF Champions League.

Tatran failed – and now have to face another highly strong opponent in their first EHF Cup matches of this season. “Like the Füchse Berlin vs HBC Nantes duel, both teams are supposed to be part of the group phase, it’s a pity.”

Close connections

David had been a coach for the German women’s team, when Roth discovered him in 2008 as his new assistant coach at TV Großwallstadt.

“I asked him and he said yes. At that time I did not know what kind of person I had engaged with, but right from the start we had a great relationship,” Roth says.

“I learnt so much from him and from the first day on we fit in a perfect way and remain good friends,” David replies: “Regardless of the results of our duels, nothing will change in our friendship.”

Since 2004 Roth had been coaching Großwallstadt. In 2009 he was hit hard when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, around the same time his twin brother received the same news.

Roth was out for several months, and in that time his assistant Peter David took over. David remained when Roth recovered and moved to HSG Wetzlar for one season (2009/10) before he joined MT Melsungen.

“I was really happy when Großwallstadt appointed Peter as their head coach,” Roth says. They faced each other several times in domestic competition until Großwallstadt were relegated to the second league in 2012 and David took over the Slovak national team.

The coaches went their separate ways, but were still in contact. Now the EHF Cup brings them together again and MT Melsungen and Roth have even more relationships to Presov.

Tatran’s former coach Rastislav Trtik had been MT coach before and lead the club from the second division to the Bundesliga. Tatran’s assistant coach Alexander Radchenko played in Melsungen and Tatran’s goalkeeper coach Maros Kolpak was a goalkeeper for Kronau-Östringen (forerunner of Rhein-Neckar Löwen), when Roth was the coach there.

“We will definitely have a lot to talk about,” David expects from the meetings with Roth, “and definitely we will have a glass of red wine, first German, then Slovak.”

First leg is crucial

David expects that his knowledge of Roth might be an advantage in those duels: “I know how he thinks and how he prepares the team.”

For Melsungen, currently on their maiden voyage in EHF European Cup competition, “a dream would come true, if we would make it to the group phase,” Roth says, adding: “But after we managed to beat Toulouse we are full of confidence.”

For Tatran, the trip to Kassel, where the first leg is played on Saturday, is another part of their constant tour through Europe and Slovakia, as Presov do not only play and lead the Slovak Super-League, but also partake in the multinational SEHA league, where they currently lie in fourth place.

“We are on the road nearly every day,” says David, who joined Tatran as their new coach at the start of this season and quit coaching the Slovak national team.

 “It is our advantage that we have the second leg at home. I don’t talk about numbers of goals; I just want to achieve a result which enables us to hope to turn the tide one week later.”

The first leg result will be a crucial factor for the number of spectators in Presov: “If we still have a chance, maybe 4,000 fans will come,” says the Tatran coach.

And what will be Roth’s present for his well-known guest this weekend? “We will treat him in the best way possible, until the starting whistle.”

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor