Generali UNTERHACHING prepares for third CL campaign
News from the clubs
Munich, Germany, October 14, 2012. They were close, very close: Generali UNTERHACHING was two match points up against the BERLIN Recycling Volleys in the last match of the past season only to see the first German championship for the club slip away seconds later. A devastating loss that left head coach Mihai Paduretu, the team and all supporters stunned.
A couple of months later Generali has regrouped and is ready to make another run at its first championship - and at another season in the CEV Volleyball Champions League. For the third year in a row the small club from the outskirts of Munich belongs to the elite teams in Europe. In Pool D UNTERHACHING faces Italian champion Lube Banca Marche MACERATA, Slovenia’s champion ACH Volley LJUBLJANA and Euphony ASSE-LENNIK from Belgium.
“Again we have been assigned to a tough group”, coach Mihai Paduretu states, “MACERATA is the clear-cut favorite; we have to fight for second place with Euphony and ACH Volley”. Paduretu knows that gathering as many points as possible is crucial, “for due to the new competition rules second place doesn’t guarantee a trip to the knockout stage.” The head coach however is fairly optimistic, “for we have made a name of ourselves in Europe in the last two seasons”.
Team captain Christian Dünnes, who came in surprising fifth with the German national team at the London Olympics, is optimistic as well. “MACERATA is the favorite in the group, no question about it, but we’re on one level with LJUBLJANA and ASSE-LENNIK, against these teams we can and must win the necessary points.”
Manager Josef Köck is looking forward to some more great international nights at tiny but noisy Generali Sportarena: “We are well prepared for the matches against our European opponents. We are looking forward to sellout games and great matches”. Prior to the first match in the 2013 CEV Volleyball Champions League scheduled for October 24 in Ljubljana, Generali is preparing for a special event. In its first home match in the league on Sunday, October 21, UNTERHACHING welcomes CEV Champions League competitor and German champion BERLIN to Munich – yes, Munich, not Unterhaching. To promote Volleyball Generali has rented Munich Olympic Hall. “We want to make the sport more popular in Munich and would like to show to a wide public that we offer a fascinating sport at a top level”, manager Köck says. The club won’t consider a permanent move from Unterhaching to Olympic Hall which sits 20 kilometers north of Generali Sportarena. Should the experiment be successful, however, Köck is thinking about moving all CEV Champions League matches to the famous arena that has a capacity of 12’000.
For captain Dünnes it is an early highlight of the season to play at Olympic Hall. He is also optimistic that Generali can set an early sign against the German champion after losing in last year’s finals. “I think that we are better than last year”, Dünnes says. One of the reasons could be that Paduretu has only four new players to add to his system. As successors to former captain Max Günthör, who transferred back to CEV Champions League competitor VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, and Denis Kaliberda who has moved to Italy, Generali signed Matias Raymaekers from Belgium, Konstantin Shumov, a Finn with Russian roots, as well as Dutch Jan Willem Snippe. In the middle of September Patrick Steuerwald surprisingly came back to Unterhaching – at first, to keep himself in shape. However, now that the season starts he seems to be in for a longer run together with his former team. “We are optimistic that we can keep him until the end of the season”, Paduretu says.
Picture: promoting the match at Munich Olympic Hall (from left to right) captain Christian Dünnes, Josef Köck, Klaus Drauschke (President of the Bavarian Volleyball Federation), Thomas Krohne (President of the German Volleyball Federation), Mihai Paduretu, Ralph Huber (CEO Olympic Park), and Patrick Steuerwald