A Spanish coach will win the trophy againArticle
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FINAL PREVIEW: Veszprém or Kielce – which club will win their first EHF Champions League trophy? Dujshebaev or Sabate – which coach will continue the Spanish tradition?

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A Spanish coach will win the trophy again

For the first time no Spanish team qualified for the VELUX EHF FINAL4, but a Spaniard will definitely continue the long tradition of victorious coaches from this country. The big question is: Will Javier Sabate lead MVM Veszprém to their first-ever EHF Champions League title or can Talant Dujshebaev guide KS Vive Tauron Kielce to the trophy in their debut final on Sunday at 18:00 local time in LANXESS arena?


KS Vive Tauron Kielce vs MVM Veszprem

Sunday, 29 May 2016, 18:00 hrs local time

In this latter case, Dujshebaev – the only male to win the Champions League as both a player and coach – would make history yet again. If Kielce become champions Dujshebaev will be the second coach ever after Alfred Gislason to win the trophy with two different clubs, following his three victories with Ciudad Real (2006, 2008, 2009).

While it is the second EHF Champions League Final for Sabate after he was assistant coach to Carlos Ortega in 2015, Dujshebaev has a long record of final participations. It will be his seventh Champions League Final as a coach, including the defeats with Ciudad Real/Atletico Madrid in 2005, 2011 and 2012. "I am here in Cologne for the fifth time and I never won the trophy here. I hope the time has come now," said Dujshebaev.

While Veszprém were finalists already in 2002 and 2015, it is Kielce’s maiden voyage after missing the final twice, in 2013 and 2015. "It will be a great final with great fans on both sides, we will have a thrilling atmosphere – and I really hope to win my next trophy," said Kielce right wing Tobias Reichmann, who has already raised one trophy this year, when he became EHF EURO champion with Germany in January.

Reichmann’s Slovenian-born teammate Uros Zorman can add his fourth individual trophy to his tally after winning the Champions League in 2004 with Celje, and with Ciudad Real in 2008 and 2009. "We will fight for our lives," Zorman said after beating Paris in Saturday's semi-final 28:26.

Veszprém needed one period of extra time to defeat Kiel 31:28, but coach Sabate does not expect the ten extra minutes played to negatively affect the fitness of his players ahead of the final: "We will fight against Kielce, like we fought against Kiel. We always believe in us, even in difficult situations."

One thing is for certain: A new country will appear on the winners' list of this competition, as no team from Hungary or Poland has ever won the Champions League trophy – and so far, only squads from Spain and Germany have been victorious in the history of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 event.

After a disappointing EHF EURO for the respective national teams of Hungary and Poland (which are also coached by Sabate and Dujshebaev, respectively), winning the premier international club trophy would be momentous for both countries.

For either Veszprém or Kielce, who will again take the court without their injured right back Denis Buntic, the Champions League trophy would crown their season with three titles, as both have already won their domestic league and cup competitions.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cg