The EHF Qualification Tournament is our FINAL4!
September 12, 2015
By Peter Bruun
The disappointments of last season have taught Gyor to focus on one task at a time. Right now, it is the Champions League qualification tournament in Drammen, Norway.
Coach and players from Serbian champions WHC Radnicki Kragujevac do not expect much respect from Gyor, when the two teams meet Saturday afternoon for the first semi-final in Qualification Group 1 of the 2015/16 Women´s EHF Champions League.
However, the Serbs are wrong in this assumption. At least if you ask Ambros Martin, head coach of Gyor Audi ETO KC.
He guarantees that he and his players are taking each and every match extremely serious.
“This is our FINAL4!” he says about the qualification group in Drammens Hallen, where his team – assuming they live up to their status as favorites and defeat Kragujevac – will be up against the winner of the match between host Glassverket and Dutch champion SERCODAK Dalfsen in the deciding game for the group phase ticket.
Having to go through the qualification tournament to even reach the Champions League is certainly a new experience for a club that is accustomed to join the EHF’s premier handball event as the champion from Hungary.
Ambros Martin admits that he and his team were taught a lesson by the disappointments of last season.
Not only did they not manage to defend their Champions League title. They did not even make it to the FINAL4 in Budapest, when they lost the quarter-final against HC Vardar Skopje.
On top of all, they also “managed” to lose the Hungarian championship to their eternal rivals FTC – formerly known as Ferencvaros – from Budapest.
“What ruined our season was the defeat to Vardar. This disappointment meant that we also lost the Hungarian championship,” the Gyor coach concludes.
“What we learned from these disappointments was to always focus on one challenge at the time. We go game by game now, and we do not look any further,” he explains.
“Here in Norway, we have to play two matches in two days, and those will define our season. We have to be at our best to win this group,” says Martín who does not even want to think as far ahead as the preliminary group, which will await his team if they win the qualification group as everyone is expecting.
In the group phase, HC Vardar, FC Midtjylland and Hypo Niederösterreich will be waiting in Group C.
The only comment from Mr. Martin regarding Vardar Skopje – “Super!” he says. Unable to hide the fact that getting the chance to revenge Gyor’s defeat of the previous season to the Macedonian champion would be something he would really cherish!
Görbicz back soon, but injury worries are still there
Soon he can welcome back star player Anita Görbicz from her maternity leave. Still, he has his worries regarding other positons. Brazilian international Eduarda Amorim is not yet fully back at her peak – to say the least – after her long injury break. On top of it, talented young center back Gabriella Toth is facing a long injury absence as well.
“I am very sad because one of my main goals for this season was to avoid injuries. Fortunately, (Aniko) Kovacsics and (Nycke) Groot can play the middle back position very well and in the long term, the comeback of Görbicz means a lot to this situation,” says Ambros Martín who does not want to relate to the question if failure to qualify for the Champions League group phase would ruin the entire season for his club.
“Right now, we focus on this qualification group and nothing else!” he repeats.
However, even though he claims that this weekend is his team´s FINAL4, it would be strange if he – and his players – are not already dreaming of an entirely different FINAL4 in the spring of 2016.