Musa and Šipić on the line for Kriens Luzern
HC Kriens Luzern will write a new chapter in the club's history in the 2023/24 season. For the first time, they will play group matches in a European competition, while their previous biggest success was the quarter-finals of the former EHF Challenge Cup back in the 2011/12 season.
One of the best Swiss clubs started their ambitious project with the comeback of legendary player Andy Schmid in 2022, and they have been building the squad for big things. The 2022/23 season ended in a great way - they won the club's first trophy, celebrating against Kadetten Schaffhausen in the domestic cup and they went all the way to the play-off final where the same opponent was better on the day in the battle for the the Swiss title.
With new signings this summer, Kriens has further strengthened the team and is looking forward to fighting for new trophies at home, but also to giving their best on the European courts and gaining valuable experience. Being one of three Swiss representatives means a lot and in Schmid's last season as a professional player, before he takes over the Swiss national team, they would like to leave their mark in the EHF European League Men.
Among strong players who are eager to star in the second-tier are two Croatian line players - Marin Šipić and Željko Musa. Šipić joined from RK Zagreb in the summer of 2022 and soon showed all of his skills. Even though his original idea was to stay in Switzerland for a year, he is now going into his second season with Kriens, and Šipić only has praise for the club.
“I am really satisfied in Kriens. When I was coming here from Zagreb, to be honest, I did not plan to stay for more than one season. However, everything fell into place, I prolonged for one more season and I am already thinking about staying a little bit more,” says Šipić.
Šipić is back in European competition after a one-year hiatus and he is bringing EHF Cup and EHF Champions League experience with him. The 27-year-old line player dreams big but at the same time stays grounded.
“I am excited to play in the EHF European League. I can't wait for the season to start and as I said, this is the first time the club will play in this stage of the competition. Realistic goals are to play finals of the play-off in the domestic league and cup. We know that is not going to be easy with good teams in our league, especially Schaffhausen but we will give our best. When it comes to the EHF European League, progressing further from the group matches would be a good start,” adds Šipić.
An EHF European League Men champion with Magdeburg at the first edition of the EHF Finals in 2021, Željko Musa followed the same path as his teammate. The experienced Croatian international came from Zagreb ahead of the 2023/24 season and will be of great help for the eighth club in his career, especially defensively speaking.
“The EHF European League is a great competition. It's getting tougher and tougher each season. There are many clubs that could play in the EHF Champions League. It is important for Kriens to be among those teams and for our sponsors also. We want to present ourselves in Europe and to show we are a good team,” says Musa.
The two line players know each other well. Playing together in Zagreb and the Croatia national team gives them a good starting point to transfer the energy to Kriens, and so far it works like a charm.
“I was excited when I heard the news Musa is coming here. We know each other very well on and off the court. We complement each other, playing together in defence and he helps in the attack when I need a rest. It is great to have someone experienced like Musa with me in the club, in the same position and to receive advice when you need it,” says Šipić.
Željko Musa was equally content to have a well-known face at the club. And when it comes to talking about Šipić's abilities, Musa has only praise.
“I am glad I can play with him, he was one of the reasons why I joined Kriens. We complement each other. Šipić is number one on the line and my role is to help in defence, 7-against-6 play and to help him when he needs a rest in the attack. He is a great line player, among the top five in Europe if you ask me when it comes to attack. What he can do is amazing. I am happy I can help sometimes with advice even though he is already an experienced player. He is getting better and better in defence, proving he is a player in both ways,” explains Musa.
Kriens Luzern will try to reach their first goal - the main round, against Górnik Zabrze, AEK Athens and TSV Hannover-Burgdorf. Musa, who was playing in the Polish league with Industria Kielce and the German Bundesliga with Magdeburg, is well aware there is no easy opponent.
“Hannover is the favourite in each match of the group, AEK made some strong signings and Zabrze is coming from a good Polish league. Our goal should be to try to win as many points as possible. This will be a great experience for the whole team,” says Musa.
His teammate Šipić had to add: “I don't want to sound arrogant but I think we can play against anyone in the group, especially at home in front of our fans and if we are injury-free. We had many of those at the start of preparation but if we all will be ready for the start of the European competition, we can aim high.”
Photos credit: HC Kriens-Luzern Facebook page