Once-in-a-lifetime experience for Swiss championsArticle
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VELUX EHF Champions League club countdown: 26 days to go - Kadetten Schaffhausen have been given a boost with placement in Group A, but they could not have asked for a tougher set of opponents

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Once-in-a-lifetime experience for Swiss champions

After winning their third double (league and cup) in Switzerland since 2011, Kadetten Schaffhausen have clearly bolstered their squad to take on a tough Group A.

Swiss number 1 Aurel Bringolf replaces Nikola Portner between the goal posts, while Polish World Championship bronze medallist and Olympic semi-finalist Michel Szyba and Swedish Kristian Bliznac will increase the squad's international experience massively.

Despite opponents like Barcelona, Veszprem, Kiel, Flensburg and PSG lying in wait, the Swiss champions hope to reach the Last 16 of the VELUX EHF Champions League for the third time.

“This is perhaps the strongest group in the history of the competition,” says manager Gabor Vass. “This group will be extremely tough, but we are ready to fight for sixth position, which will be a huge challenge,” adds team captain David Graubner.

After German 2007 world champion Markus Baur had been coach for several years, Schaffhausen made a change early in 2016 by signing Lars Walther. The Dane had been coaching several Champions League teams such as Wisla Plock (Poland) and last season Baia Mare (Romania).

Though Szyba missed pre-season due to the Olympic Games, Kadetten produced some good results, including victory at the test tournament in Altensteig.

In domestic competitions, Schaffhausen aim to win all possible trophies, and: “We need to be part of the Champions League to improve the team and to represent the club and the country,” Vass says.

Graubner is looking forward to “a fantastic international season and matches against five of the best clubs in handball.

“It’s going to be a year with nothing but highlights for us. Barcelona, Kiel, PSG, Veszprem, Flensburg - to face them all in one season is probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

The Kadetten team captain expects hard fights with Plock and Bjerringbro for the spot in the knock-out stage: “We can’t wait for the season to get started.”

Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI)

Qualification for the 2016/17 VELUX EHF Champions League season: Swiss champions

Newcomers:  Aurel Bringolf (Pfadi Winterthur), Ron Delhees (GC Amicitia Zürich), Michal Szyba (RK Gorenje Velenje), Kristian Bliznac (HSG Wetzlar)

Left the club:  Aleksandar Stojanovic (SG GS Kadetten Espoir SH), Nikola Cvijetic (RTV Basel), Nikola Portner (Montpellier Handball)

Coach: Lars Walther (since January 2016)

Team captain: David Graubner

Opponents in the group phase: Veszprem, Barcelona, PSG, Bjerringbro, Plock, Kiel and Flensburg in Group A

VELUX EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2016/2017 season): 10
Last 16 (2): 2010/2011, 2011/2012
Group Phase (6): 2005/2006, 2006/2007, 2007/2008, 2012/2013, 2014/2015, 2015/2016
Qualification (1): 2009/2010

Other EC records:

EHF Cup:
Final: 2009/2010

Cup Winners’ Cup:
Semi-final: 2007/2008

Swiss champion: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016

Swiss Cup winner: 1999, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2014, 2016

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor