Kiel look to send Sagosen and Landin off in style
Reaching the EHF FINAL4 is a traditional season goal for four-time winners and 2022 bronze medallists THW Kiel.
However, the club begins the 2022/23 season without star Sander Sagosen and defence boss Hendrik Pekeler, both sidelined through injury – Sagosen has been ruled out until at least December. The German side will need to use all their bench depth to succeed in a group including Barça and Kielce.
- Main facts
had two All-star Team members last season: goalkeeper Niklas Landin and best defender Hendrik Pekeler
- after two back-to-back Bundesliga victories in 2020 and 2021, were runners-up in 2022 to Magdeburg
- head coach Filip Jicha is now in his fourth season in charge – and is still the only person to win the EHF Champions League in Cologne as player and coach
- star centre back Sander Sagosen missed the EHF FINAL4 2022 after breaking his ankle. 2022/23 is set to be his last season at Kiel, and goalkeeper Niklas Landin will also leave next summer
- squad is bolstered by Tomas Mrkva (from Bergischer) and Eric Johansson (Elverum) among others
Most important question: Will their long-term injuries stop Kiel in the first half of the season?
Kiel’s defence boss and attacking mastermind are still out for several months. Hendrik Pekeler tore his Achilles tendon in the 2022 quarter-finals against Paris Saint-Germain, while Sander Sagosen broke his left ankle in a Bundesliga match against HSV Hamburg in June. Both missed the EHF FINAL4 2022 and still need time to recover. In the worst, but still realistic, case, both will miss the first 10 of the 14 Machineseeker EHF Champions League group matches, and may only return after the 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship. Norwegian Petter Øverby will strengthen the middle block at Wiencek’s side, while incoming Swedes Eric Johansson (from Elverum Handball) and Karl Wallinius (from Montpellier HB) will take responsibility in attack and are long-term successors for outgoing Sagosen.
Under the spotlight: Sander Sagosen
After two years so far at Kiel, including winning the Champions League title in 2020, it will be time to say farewell to the Norwegian superstar next summer. After his broken ankle and two operations, it is unclear whether the playmaker will be able to return to court in 2022, or if Kiel need to wait until February to have their mastermind back on track. “But for sure, I will try to win some more trophies before I leave,” said Sagosen, who will join Kolstad in Norway next summer.
How they rate themselves
Facing defending champions Barça and Kielce in a truly tough group means top opponents right from the start.
“Our group is the stronger one and we will have highly attractive matches. Only the fact that we face both finalists of the previous season says it all. It will be a really tough fight for the first two positions, but to make it there is our first goal,” said THW manager Viktor Szilagyi.
And talking about goals, Domagoj Duvnjak (one of three team captains) is looking further ahead: “It is out aim to make it to the EHF FINAL4 in Cologne. Last season, you saw how important it is to be among the first two teams after the group phase, as then you have the second leg of the quarter-finals at home, which is a huge advantage.”
What do the numbers say?
Kiel have one of the most experienced squads in the competition, though their oldest player Pavel Horak left. Counting on players in their mid-30s such as Patrick Wiencek, Niklas Ekberg, Steffen Weinhold, outgoing Niklas Landin, Domagoj Duvnjak and currently injured Hendrik Pekeler, a mid-term transition seems to be ahead at Kiel.
Did you know?
The semi-final defeat against Barça at the EHF FINAL4 2022 was Kiel’s first-ever defeat by a Spanish team at the pinnacle event in Cologne. Kiel beat Barça twice (2010, 2020) in the finals at Cologne and Atletico Madrid once (2012); they also won the semi-final against Ciudad Real in 2010.
However, before their 2010 triumph, Kiel lost three Champions League finals in the old format against Spanish teams – falling to Barça in 2000 and Ciudad Real in 2008 and 2009.
In 2022/23, Kiel play their 25th Champions League season.
Newcomers and departures
Newcomers: Tomas Mrkva (Bergischer HC), Petter Øverby (HC Erlangen), Eric Johansson (Elverum Handball), Karl Wallinius (Montpellier HB), Ben Connar Battermann, Henri Pabst (eigene Jugend)
Left the club: Dario Quenstedt (TSV Hannover-Burgdorf), Pavel Horak (Lovci Lovosice/CZE), Leon Ciudad Benitez (VfL Lübeck-Schwartau)
EHF Champions League
Participations (including 2022/23 season): 25
Winners (4): 2006/07, 2009/10, 2011/12, 2019/20
Final (4): 1999/2000, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2013/14
Semi-finals (6): 1996/97, 2000/01, 2012/13, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2021/22
Quarter-finals (8): 1998/99, 2002/03, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2010/11, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2020/21
Group phase (2): 1994/95, 1995/96
EHF Cup: winners 1997/98, 2001/02, 2003/04, 2018/19
Champions Trophy: winners 2006/07; runners-up: 2000/01, 2001/02, 2003/04, 2007/08
German league: 22 titles (1957, 1962-63, 1994-96, 1998-2000, 2002, 2005-10, 2012-15, 2020-21)
German Cup: 12 titles (1998-2000, 2007-09, 2011-13, 2017, 2019, 2022)