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01.02.2018, 13:50◄ last page     


EHF Cup countdown #10: Cocks (FIN): Back after their group phase debut last season, the Finnish side want to show they have improved and at least earn their first points this time
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Cocks hope for points, experience and confidence

Last year they became the first-ever team from Finland to reach the group phase of an EHF club competition. This year Cocks are back - and out for more.

Cocks, winners of both the domestic league and cup nine times, lost all their matches in the Men’s EHF Cup Group Phase 2016/17, but they came close on home court against Germany’s Melsungen (29:28) and Portugal’s Benfica (23:21).

“Now we want to gain our first group phase points. This time we intend to be not only participants, but to give a real fight in every game and compete for points on this level,” says Lithuanian-born Cocks coach Gintaras Savukynas, who started his mission in the summer of 2016.

Savunykas not only hopes to win both domestic competitions in Finland again as well as the multinational Baltic league for a third time. On EHF Cup level, he also wants to show the development his squad, with players from six different nations, has made.

“We face very strong and interesting opponents in Group C, including defending champions Göppingen and the two Balkan teams, Koper and Nexe. We gained experience in the previous season so we know what we can expect from the group phase,” Savukynas says.

“To make it to the group phase for the second year in a row proves that last year’s success was no accident. We will gain more confidence and experience, which is very important.”

For Savukynas, hosts Magdeburg, Berlin, Bjerringbro and Chambery are the favourites to make it to the EHF Cup Finals in May.

After failing against Benfica in the qualification for the VELUX EHF Champions League, Cocks eliminated Belgian champions Bocholt and last year’s EHF Cup Group Phase participants Ribnica from Slovenia in their two qualification rounds.

Among their new arrivals, two Serbians - line player Davor Basaric and left wing Bojan Zupanjac - stand out. On the other hand, Russian right wing Andrej Novoselov tore his ACL in one of the games against Bocholt and won’t play in the group phase.

Cocks also have a new venue for their home matches, the Folksam Arena in Siuntio.

Cocks (FIN)

Qualification for the EHF Cup Group Phase 2017/18: Round 2:  35:40, 37:25 against Bocholt (BEL), Round 3: 24:17, 25:29 against Ribnica (SLO)

Newcomers: Davor Basaric (Bidasoa Irun), Viktar Zaitsev (St. Petersburg), Theo Westerlund (Sjuntio IF), Andre Udd (BK46), Bojan Zupanjac (RK Spartak Vojput)

Left the club: Georgi Safronii (Atlas Vantaa), Andrej Kaliarovich (retired), Kirill Morozov (St. Petersburg), Tiago Silva (destination unknown), Anti Valo (retired)

Coach: Gintaras Savukynas (since 2016)

Team captain: Teemu Taminnen

Opponents in the group matches: Göppingen, Koper, Nexe in Group C

EHF Champions League records:
Qualification: 2016/17, 2017/18

Other EC records:

EHF Cup:
Group Phase: 2016/17

Challenge Cup:
Quarter-finalists: 2013/14, 2014/15

Finnish champions (9): 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
Finnish cup winners (9): 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ew

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