In June this Swedish duo celebrated on the winners’ podium of the VELUX EHF Champions League. Now coach LjubomirVranjes and team captain Tobias Karlsson and the rest of the SG Flensburg-Handewitt squad will arrive in Doha for the IHF Super Globe (7 to 12 September).
In this double interview two of the keys to success for the German side talk about their aspirations for Doha and the importance of being part of the IHF Super Globe for the first time.
LjubomirVranjes, what is the significance of participating at the IHF Super Globe for your team?
LjubomirVranjes: We have reconstructed our team and integrated some new players after some experienced stars have left. So the IHF Super Globe is a perfect base to rehearse the team for a long and tough season.
Tobias Karlsson, how do you approach a tournament like the IHF Super Globe as a player?
Tobias Karlsson: I have never been to Doha before, so it will be hard to predict. With Flensburg and the Swedish national team I had been all around the world, but this will be my first experience in Doha and at the IHF Super Globe. I am really looking forward to experiencing this event, the city of Doha and the Qatari people. From the sportive point of view the goal is clearly set: Winning all matches!
How do you prepare your team for opponents you’ve never faced before?
LjubomirVranjes: We fully focus on our performance in this case, not on the opponents. We will try to bring our concept of handball on the court as well as possible. In the end we will see how far we can go against these totally different opponents.
Will the IHF Super Globe be the end of preparation for the new season or do you consider it already as the start of the official season?
LjubomirVranjes: We have started our Bundesliga season in August, so already the competition period has started for us. But we will use the IHF Super Globe as a week with a lot of matches on a high level to rehearse our team, as I mentioned before.
You will have five matches in six days – is it a tough programme or ideal to rehearse the team further, as LjubomirVranjes hopes for?
Tobias Karlsson: It is a stressful task. Including Bundesliga, German Cup, Champions League and Super Globe we have 34 official matches from the end of August until the end of December with Flensburg. This is a burden for your body.
But you could inject some additional power, motivation and adrenaline by raising the IHF Super Globe trophy on 12 September as the Flensburg team captain?
Tobias Karlsson: It is always brilliant to win a title, to raise a trophy and to stand on top of the winners’ podium. It would be a great feeling to raise this trophy in Doha.
In the last three years a German team has been a part of the IHF Super Globe final – is it your target to continue this series?
LjubomirVranjes: We want to win every match, this is always our ambition, of course also at the IHF Super Globe.
What importance would winning the IHF Super Globe title have for you?
LjubomirVranjes: I am a coach full of passion, so every title, every trophy is brilliant – and we are always aiming to win titles, in Doha too.
Could another trophy be comparable with winning the Champions League in June?
Tobias Karlsson: This title was something very special, which we will never forget in our whole life – nothing can be compared with those days in Cologne at the VELUX EHF FINAL4.
A potential final opponent at the IHF Super Globe in Doha could be FC Barcelona, the team you defeated in the Champions League semi-final after a penalty shoot-out. Is there already any anticipation of this potential duel?
Tobias Karlsson: The anticipation on facing the best team of the world is always huge, a match with them is always something special. And we will see Barcelona soon again, as we face-off twice in the Group Phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League.
Will your team be able to have some sightseeing in Doha?
LjubomirVranjes: If we have the time, the players will manage to see some more of Doha than only the hotel and the arena. We will use the match-free day for some sightseeing.
In January you will be in Doha again for the World Championship with the Swedish team. Is the IHF Super Globe a perfect occasion to get a first impression of Doha and the hosting nation?
Tobias Karlsson: Absolutely yes! As I said, I have never been to Doha before. I honestly believe that being in Doha is an extreme advantage for me personally to see how it works in Qatar. I have one week to got to know one venue, the hotels and the people in Qatar.