Underdogs Fivers chasing another big shock
Fivers have become one of very few Austrian teams to do well in a men’s European club competition recently.
And with a squad entirely made up of Austrian nationals, they will relish the opportunity to collect vital experience in the all-new EHF European League and build for the future.
- reaching the group phase is Fivers’ best international achievement since their quarter-final appearance in the IHF Cup 1984/85
- the club celebrated their 125-year anniversary in 2019
- 18 players from their squad come from Fivers youth
- in the summer of 2020, Vytautas Ziura said goodbye to the team after 16 years
The burning question – Can Fivers pull off another sensation?
It’s fair to say that Fivers will be going into each and every tie in the European League group A as the underdogs.
However, their upset knock-out of Benfica in qualification round 1 will give them great confidence, especially when they host their opponents in the Sporthalle Margareten.
Team manager Thomas Menzl made the club’s intentions clear: “It’s a great honor and pleasure to play in the EHF European League group phase.
“For our team, that consists of only Austrian players, it will be an unforgettable experience. We want to fight for as many points as possible in this very challenging group and make other teams sit up and take notice,” Menzl added.
Team captain Markus Kolar will be 36 when the group phase throws off and it will be a season to be relished.
“Being able to present myself on an international level is my greatest of all motivations and this at my age! Things in life always seem to happen when you least expect them,” Kolar said.
The Austrian international’s experience will be key with him leading a very young side onto the big stage - the large majority of the squad were born between 1996 and 2000.
But don’t let their age fool you, this side from the fifth district in Vienna packs a punch.
Young gun - Lukas Hutecek
The 20-year-old left back has really had a big impact since he joined the side in 2017. In his first year he picked up Newcomer of the Year 2017/18, and in this second, he was voted Player of the Year of the 2019/20 Handball Liga Austria season.
On the back of all this good work, Hutecek got his first international cap for Austria against Germany on 6 January 2020, in the build-up to the EHF EURO 2020.
Scoring 18 goals in qualification, the club has a lot of hope for this young shooter and he will surely embrace playing under the big lights of the EHF European League.
The rock - Tobias Wagner
The 1.93-metre tall line player is a key asset for the Austrian side.
He moved back to Fivers after a short two-year stint in the German Bundesliga with HBW Balingen-Weilstetten.
He has collected two Austrian cups and the Austrian league title wearing the colours of Fivers. Wagner also has been featured regularly in the Austrian national team, netting over 80 goals.
Safe hands - Wolfgang Filzwieser
The 36-year-old goalkeeper has played for four different clubs before moving to Fivers in 2017.
Filzwieser had the shortest of all spells outside of Austria when he joined Swedish side IFK Trelleborg Handboll, and after only two games his time there was cut short with contractual issues, so he returned to Austria.
Filzwieser gives Fivers great experience between the posts having been called up for national team duty 27 times and played a vital role in their shock win over Benfica.
A night to remember
We go back to a night only a matter of weeks ago for one of Fivers’ biggest stories in Europe: qualification round 1 for the EHF European League 2020/21.
The Viennese side came back home after their first leg tie against Benfica with a two-goal deficit. They may have saved the tie thanks to coming back from six goals down in the second half.
However, against a team with the likes of Petar Djordjic, Ole Rahmel and Kevynn Nyokas, coached by the legend Chema Rodriguez, the task still seemed like a serious uphill battle, despite the valiant comeback.
Fivers showed their intentions early and came bursting out of the gates to build up a 18:12 half-time lead.
Wolfgang Filzwieser in goal had a stormer of a performance and the young Lukas Hutecek along with Marin Martinovic both netted seven to give Fivers Handball the 38:34 win and one of the club’s biggest nights to date.
It will surely be a performance that will be drawn upon all season when the big names come to town.
Arrivals and departures
Left the club: Vytas Ziura (Leoben)
Austrian league (3 titles): 2010/11, 2015/16, 2017/18
Austrian cup (7 titles): 1998/99, 2008/09, 2011/12, 2012/13, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17