From the Tatra to far East and far WestArticle
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VELUX EHF Champions League club countdown: 7 days to go - Tatran Presov (SVK)

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From the Tatra to far East and far West

Their tallest player leaves, a new coach arrives and they get seeded for the Group Phrase meaning they avoided playing in the VELUX EHF Champions League Qualification Tournament – a short summary of the major happenings at Tatran Presov ahead of the start of the season.

After failing to qualify four times straight from 2011 to 2014, the Slovak champions are back in the Group Phase, in which they will compete with La Rioja, Brest, Chekhov, Porto and Vojvodina in Group C.

The new coach of the eleven-time Slovak champions is Rastislav Trtik, who took over from Peter David. In the preparation, Trtik’s team finished second twice at tournaments in Sala (Slovakia) and Doboj (Bosnia), which they had won in 2013 and 2014.

The new squad consists of five newcomers arriving from five different countries. Four players left - including 2,13 metres tall Latvian Dainis Kristopans  is now playing for Presov’s Group Phase rival Brest. In addition, Trtik has to cope with some long-term injuries, such as left back Oliver Rabek and playmaker Vasja Furlan.

“After four years in a row of missing the qualification for the VELUX EHF Champions League it is great to be back and to be able to promote handball in Slovakia and our region,” says manager Branko Benko, adding: “Our objective is to do our best, win all home matches, try to steal some points in away matches and aim for second place. With a new head coach and five new players I believe it is a feasable goal."

Besides the Slovak Super League and the Champions League, Tatran will compete in the multinational SEHA Liga - and to make it among the top six teams like in 2014/15 is there additional goal for the season.

Benko expects some interesting games in the Group Phase and will welcome some well-known faces into their arena: “It is a quite interesting group. We face teams from all over Europe, from far East like Chekhov all the way to the far West like La Rioja or Porto. Also we face two of our regular opponents of the SEHA League, Meshkov Brest and Vojvodina Novi Sad. I believe that all matches will be interesting and will sell out our Tatran Handball Arena.”

Team captain, left wing Radoslav Antl, expects close matches too: “All opponents are very strong and it will be really hard to play against them. We would like to take advantage of our home matches and of course to do our best in the away matches. Hopefully we can finish in second when it is all done and dusted.”


Qualification for the 2015/2016 VELUX EHF Champions League season: Slovakian champions

Newcomers: Alexey Peskov (ZTR Zaporozhye), Igor Chupryna (Lokomotiv Chelyabinsk), Ivan Ivkovic (HCB OKD Karvina), Vladimir Bozic (ALPLA HC
Hard), David Pogany (START Nove Zamky)

Left the club: Dainis Kristopans (Meshkov Brest), Tomas Urban (ThSV Eisenach), Jakub Krupa (Azoty Pulawy), Svetislav Verkic (ThSV Eisenach)

Coach: Rastislav Trtik (since 2015, successor of Peter David)

Opponents in the Group Phase: La Rioja, Brest, Medvedi, Porto, Vojvodina (Group C)

VELUX EHF Champions League records:

Participations (including 2015/2016 season): 12
Last 16 (1): 2004/05
Last 32 (1) 1993/94
Group Matches (4): 2005/06, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2010/11
Qualification (5): 2009/10, 2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14, 2014/15

Other achievements:

Quarterfinal 2011/12
Last 16 1994/95, 1995/96

EHF Cup Winners’ Cup
Quarterfinal 2005/06
Last 16 2007/08, 2008/09

Slovakian champion: 2003/04, 2004/05, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14, 2014/15

Slovakian Cup winner: 2001/02, 2003/04, 2004/05, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14, 2014/15

TEXT: Björn Pazen / bc