Sydney University are in Geelong, Victoria with the goal of defending their title as four-time Oceania Club champions. The team have played the IHF Super Globe on four occasions, and recorded unprecedented success at the 2015 edition when they defeated Doha-based club Al Sadd 21:20.
Sydney Uni went on to finish fourth at the competition – the highest ever ranking for any team from Oceania.
EHF EURO 2106 silver medallist with Spain and FC Barcelona Lassa right wing Victor Tomas was impressed with the team’s performance last year.
“I was quite surprised because they improved a lot this year,” said the three-time EHF Champions League winner after Barcelona defeated Sydney Uni 30:20 in the three/four play-off match.
“They are playing much better. It’s very important that the goalkeeper is playing so well, and that they are tougher. I think if they continue improving like this it’s going to be a tough team in the next years.”
Sydney Uni coach Philipp Enders says that one of their biggest problems however, is continuity in the team due to the number of international players.
“As every year we have a group of guys from all parts of the world getting thrown together, having to learn attacking and defence systems which other teams take 12 months plus to learn; having to play a decent competition with no competitive games under their belt in order to come together as a team on the court, with the added difficulty of losing a couple of players who have been key members of the squad for years,” he says.
“The quality of the squad however is good – new players being integrated as well as more players arriving during June and July. It is difficult to compare the quality of this year’s squad with last year’s Super Globe squad as we are at a different cycle of the year, but there is a lot of talent in this group. The next few days will be a great measure for where we currently stand.
“Traditionally Sydney Uni has strong squads with the ambition to win titles year in, year out. This doesn't change this year. We are however, respectful of the competition. We have been training several times per week on and off the court. The team is starting to come together as a group. It’s difficult to say where we stand on the court but the upcoming few days will give us the answer to that question. I am confident that we will do well at the competition. Having three games in the group stage prior to finals will help us refine our game.”
St Kilda Handball Club have traditionally been one of the Sydney Uni’s most difficult opponents, and that is no different this year, according to Enders:
“Playing in Geelong (Melbourne) makes St Kilda HC a very dangerous opponent. UTS from Sydney has a strong squad. I also expect West Adelaide to play a good role at the competition. We are excited to see a team from outside of Australia at the competition. Olympique de Noumea from New Caledonia are expected to have a number of French expats.”
Matches will begin on Thursday June 2 and be played at Corio LeasureTime Centre. Regular updates are available on Victorian Handball Twitter [link to https://twitter.com/HandballVic] as well as the event Facebook page [link to https://www.facebook.com/events/483323278543452/].
By Courtney Gahan