The handball players of TV marktsteft got off to a mab start in the new season in the upper district league. After two victories at the start of the season, the team is now at the top of the table without any losses and is set to play a similarly good role as in the previous round. The team was relegated to second place in the national league and just missed out on direct promotion.
So is the time ripe for the national league return?
New coach stefan knotgen may not be going that far out on a limb given the early stage of the season. "We had a great start and want to stay up there as long as possible. But whether it is enough in the end, we will see. We still have 20 games to go, and we still have some strong opponents coming up," he says. So he expects fierce resistance from the competition.
The first signs that they know how to fight back have already been sent by the market stallholders. Neither the HSG volkach (36:25) nor the TSV partenstein (21:15) love them a chance on the first two match days.
"Most important realization: both approaches fit – whether young or old." Stefan knotgen, coach of TV marktsteft
From the club’s point of view, the successful start was all the more gratifying because, according to coach knotgen, the preparation had been anything but optimal. Time and again he had to do without important players. Automatisms could not be rehearsed as desired. "It was a wonder where we stand", knotgen himself had to be surprised what his boys would conjure up on the hall floor.
But he liked what he saw. Especially against his former team, HSG volkach, which he coached last season, the team has already implemented his strategy very well. "60 minutes of tempo handball, lots of easy goals and few breathers for the opponent" – that’s how knotgen describes his game idea in short. It is especially feasible when, as against volkach, he can send his young guns from the A-youth onto the pitch. There are six of them who – if there are no overlaps with the A-junioren-bayernliga schedule – will be joining the first team squad.
It is a promising model, the youngsters show that they can easily keep up with the adults. In luca matern, for example, a representative of the junior guard against volkach was already the second best scorer of his team with five goals. One of the reasons why knotgen describes his team as the "most inscrutable" in the league. While with many opponents it is clear which players you have to concentrate on in particular, the marktsteft squad is very well-balanced and therefore unpredictable for the opponent. Especially since the personnel merry-go-round in marktsteft can sometimes pick up speed quite a bit.
For when the young players are in action due to a clash of dates for the A-juniors, older, more experienced players from the third team take their place. That’s what happened recently in partenstein, where the experienced players did just as well. "The most important thing for me to learn from the two games was that both suits fit – young or old," says knotgen, who also knows that there is always room for improvement. He would like his team to be more calm, more composed and better at taking their chances.
Attributes that could also be helpful in the upcoming derby this saturday against fourth-placed HSG mainfranken. "Both teams know each other inside and out. The decisive factor will be who manages to shut down the opponent’s key players better," says knotgen. So you might think that marktsteft has an advantage. Because, according to the trainer, marktsteft has a few of them.