Rot-Weiss Koln’s Timur Oruz is happy his club finally avoided playing SV Kampong, this time being paired with newcomers Royal Beerschot from Belgium.
Rot-Weiss, the 2017 champions, had been paired with the Dutch giants in the KO16 for the last three seasons by the draw while they have met five times since October 2013.
It means a very different challenge this time around as they will come up against a side playing in their first EHL game, an opponent the German side have never encountered before.
“I am sure that it will be a tough match against a good Belgium team,“ Oruz told the EHL website. “Our coach, André Henning, will prepare us during the next weeks and then we will see what will happen in Barcelona.
Henning’s side have started their season in good form, most recently beating reigning German champions Uhlenhorst Mulheim 3-2 thanks to a late Jonas Gomoll goal.
Such success has been achieved despite resting a number of key players in the early weeks of the season. Four wins out of five games has them top of the league ahead of Berliner HC and Harvestehuder THC with usual challengers Uhlenhorst and Mannheimer HC seven points back in mid-table.
Managing the squad to be in peak position for the EHL has been a balancing act with the Europeans in August and the Olympic qualifiers also on the agenda.
“The biggest problem for our national players is they haven’t had a break for holidays,“ Oruz continued. “That is probably the reason that we haven’t played one of the league games with our whole squad so far due to injuries.
“Nevertheless the results are quite good and, especially, our youth players have been convincing. We will have to use the upcoming games for our team development and maybe the most important goal is to have every single player back fit.”
Should they do that, they will have their usual star-studded line-up available with Mats and Tom Grambusch, Thies Ole Prinz, Johannes Grosse, Jonas Gomoll, Victor Aly and Christopher Ruhr but goal-poacher Marco Miltkau has moved on to La Gantoise in Belgium.
They have plenty of experience of the big stage thanks to that 2017 success but also their run to the GRAND FINAL in the spring this year, missing out at the hands of the Waterloo Ducks.
Back then, they had plenty of the game but got caught cold in the second half by the Ducks who soon ran away to win 4-0.
“Last year was an interesting and important experience for our team. If someone asked us before whether we would be happy with a silver medal beating Kampong, Amsterdam and Polo, I am sure that most of us would have taken it.
“But, of course, losing a final is disappointing every time. All in all, it was an incredible tournament and we played some really good hockey as a team but, in the end, it was not enough for winning gold. You can’t win a game without shooting at goal!”