Mannheim revel in chance of battling Rotterdam and a noisy home crowd

©: Frank Uijlenbroek/world Sport Pics

Mannheimer HC trio Philipp Huber, Paul Zmyslony and Danny Nguyen are looking forward to taking on HC Rotterdam and a big home crowd when they line out at the EHL KO16 on March 31.

The German champions are embarking on their third EHL adventure having reached the KO8 last year in Eindhoven and the KO16 in 2011.

They will face the home hosts in their first outdoor match of 2018 with the German league not set to return for them until April 8. The first half of the season saw them record seven wins from 11 and sit in second place behind Rot-Weiss Koln.

Looking forward to the EHL KO16, defensive boss Philipp Huber (pictured) is looking forward to building on an excellent 2017, one in which he also made the breakthrough into the German international team and played at the World League final in Bhubaneswar.

“It’s gonna be a great game with an awesome atmosphere in Rotterdam. That’s why you want to play EHL – playing against the best in front of great fans. The first EHL game of this season will be a big one for us. We’ll be 100% motivated – no fear, just anticipation!

“Our team has changed since we won the German championship. We needed to find our rhythm with the new squad in the first half of the season and we integrated young talents and it went pretty well.”

Zmyslony has been one of their main goalscorers, netting six times – second only to corner ace Gonzalo Peillat who has 10 – and he agrees with Huber about the way his side has coped with the transition of players.

“It’s not easy to start a season with a changed team and at the same time being reigning German champion. So, we did not really know how this season would go.

“But after the first three games, a derby win against TSV Mannheim 3-1, away against Uhlenhorst Mülheim 2-5 win and the 3:6 loss in Rot-Weiss Köln, we knew this team will work and fight.

“I am happy that I could add six goals to the successful first half and I will definitely score one against Rotterdam. Let’s see if Hertzberger is able to score one against us!”

Nguyen has been part of the engine room of the team along with his older brother Tino and was part of the German panel for both the World League final and the Indoor World Cup.

“We know our strength,” he said of their chances. “Not the best first half of the season, but we just need more time on the field with this team. The potential of this team is huge.

“We are mentally strong after all the knock-out matches in the last year. We will be perfectly prepared for the KO16 and ready to beat any team. Rotterdam better be prepared, because Mannheim will fight until the very end!”