|06.09.2010, 11:40||◄ last page|
VELUX EHF Men's Champions League countdown, part 9: SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER)
Year one after the legendary Lars
It was a large farewell party for a great sportsman: After 14 years playing for SG Flensburg-Handewitt Danish left wing Lars Christiansen said „Good bye, Flensburg!".
The 38 year old Danish international returned to his home country – which is not more than just around the corner – and will now play for EHF Champions League participant KIF Kolding.
He leaves some sheer untouchable records in Flensburg, like scoring 2725 goals in the Bundesliga for the SG. This puts him on rank two in the eternal top scorers list, behind Korean Kyung Shin Yoon.
As Christiansen, their number 15, won’t be there anymore, the SG lost a huge identification figure whose last act was to help his club to return to the EHF Champions League after missing last season.
For many people it came as a big surprise that Flensburg ended ranked third in the last Bundesliga season, before clubs like Rhein-Neckar Löwen or TBV Lemgo.
The Northern German club is well known in the EHF Champions League, as they reached the finals twice in 2004 (lost against Celje) and 2007 (lost against their neighbour Kiel). Additionally Flensburg 2006 came into the semis.
To go through to the EHF FINAL4 would be a dream for them, but their aim is little bit lower: "We want to reach the Quarterfinals of the EHF Champions League," coach Per Carlen said before the start of the season.
Beside Christiansen another legend has left the club: the Norwegian Jonny Jensen, who due to some injuries didn’t play last season. An even bigger loss is the one of Swedish goalkeeper Johan Sjöstrand who will replace David Barrufet at FC Barcelona. New goalkeeper is Danish Sören Rasmussen who arrived from Aalborg in Flensburg.
As Alan Muratovic has retired after his shoulder injury Flensburg found a new left handed player in the Hungarian international Tamas Mocsai from Lemgo, new play maker will be Austrian Viktor Szilágyi (instead of Alexander Petersson, who left to Berlin).
Manager Holger Kaiser is really looking forward to the comeback in the EHF Champions League: "We’re so proud that we managed to qualify directly for the EHF Champions League. We will play in a very interesting group in which Ciudad Real is the clear favourite. Zagreb is our eternal opponent when we play EHF Champions League – so we’ll have a great reunion with the Croats." Aside Flensburg meet Sarajevo, Constanta and debutants St. Petersburg.
For coach Carlen the aim is to be ranked close to Ciudad Real after the Group Phase to get an easier opponent in the Last 16, plus to become at least fourth in the German league. For those targets he can count on his son Oscar – one of the best left handed players in Germany and one of the hopes for Sweden for the World Championship on home soil.
New SG captain and successor of Lars Christiansen is Tobias Karlsson. "We have a great team which has improved mentally and physically," Carlen pointed out. Newcomer Mocsai has different hopes: "I would like to meet my father, who’s the coach of MKB Veszprém, in the EHF Champions League. Let’s wait and see!"
Newcomers: Viktor Szilágyi (from VfL Gummersbach), Tamás Mocsai (from TBV Lemgo), Sören Rassmussen (from AaB Aalborg)
Left the club: Johnny Jensen, Alen Muratovic (both retired), Torge Johannsen (to TSV Hannover-Burgdorf), Lars Christiansen (to KIF Kolding), Alexander Petersson (to Füchse Berlin), Johan Sjöstrand (to FC Barcelona)
Coach: Per Carlén (SWE, since December 2008)
Champions league finalist: 2004, 2007, Champions League semi finalist 2006, EHF Cup Winner 1997, EHF Cup Finalist 1998, 2000, Cup Winners Cup Winner 2001
German Champion 2004, three times German cup winner
Find more info here.
TEXT: Björn Pazen