Kiel (AP) – Immediately after the final whistle, Filip Jicha was combative. “We will stand up and continue to work on ourselves,” said the coach of THW Kiel after his protégés suffered the first setback of the season in the Handball Champions League with the 36:38 against RK Celje.
As a result of the defeat at the Slovenian champions, the “Zebras” plan to achieve one of the two first places in Group B and thus move straight into the quarter-finals received a sensitive damper on the second day of the preliminary round. After all, defending champions FC Barcelona, the finalists KS Kielce from Poland and the Danish club Aalborg HB with superstar Mikkel Hansen still have the really big tasks ahead of them.
In Celje, Kiel had to play without captain Domagoj Duvnjak (family reasons). Back home, Miha Zarabec was just as plagued by back problems as Steffen Weinhold. But Filip Jicha had to acknowledge: “Celje played really well and had a very high level of attack. We couldn’t stop them or put them in positions where we wanted them to be.”
The Kiel defense was never able to throw the Slovenians off course. So it was difficult for goalkeepers Tomas Mrkva and Niklas Landin to shine. “38 goals conceded is too many. That’s not what we want to play with our two great goalkeepers. That really shouldn’t happen to us,” said backcourt player Nikola Bilyk.
The undefeated Bundesliga leader has the chance to improve on Sunday (2 p.m. / Sky) in the third away game in a row at TSV Hannover-Burgdorf. In the premier class, THW welcomes Hungary’s champion Pick Szeged on September 29 (6.45 p.m. / DAZN).
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