2019 Champions League Team Previews: Part Three

The annual AFL Europe Champions League is returning to Amsterdam once again for what is set to be a competitive day of football as the best club teams from around Europe battle it out.

This will be the fifth time the tournament has taken place, as this year will see all the games take place on Saturday the 6th of April. As part of the buildup, AFL Europe will be previewing all the teams competing. For part three of the previews, we will be looking at the Zagreb Cvjetno Dockers and the Manchester Mosquitoes in the Men’s side of the draw, and the Port Malmö Lynx in the Women’s.

Men’s Competition:

Zagreb Cvjetno Dockers

Ivan Molnar – Zagreb Cvjetno Dockers coach

How did you qualify for this year’s Champions League?

We qualified by winning the Central European Australian Football League (CEAFL). It was a very hard competition with clubs from Austria, Italy, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Croatia participating. We won the first tournament in Zagreb which was a surprise considering the much more experienced opposition. In the second tournament in Prague, we took second place which was enough to secure a title. It is our second CEAFL title in two years.

Have you been involved with any pre-season tournaments? If so, how did that go? If not, have you had the chance to play any other teams recently in preparation?

Before the 2019 Champion’s League, we will play in the Croatian Cup. The format of this competition should give us some good preparation for Amsterdam.

What can we expect to see from your team in this years Champions League?

This year our team is more experienced with some players who couldn’t come last year. Our performance will be better for sure and hopefully, it will be visible in the final ranking.

Where do you rank competing in the Champions League in the AFL Europe calendar and what does it mean to the team?

The Champions League tournament for us is both the reward and the opportunity. A reward for the hard work of the previous season, and the opportunity to learn more from teams all over Europe. We are always looking forward to Champion’s League, this is our fourth consecutive Champions League tournament and we are very proud of that. It shows the quality of how things are done in our club, it is not easy to constantly be playing at a high level.

Do you have any extra bits of information about the club, any funny or interesting stories?

Last year, due to injuries, we played half of the season without ruck. Players started to joke that anyone could play that position. In the end, we managed to achieve good results. But one such season was enough, we don’t want any more injuries.

 

 

Manchester Mosquitoes

Glenn Murphy – Manchester Mosquitoes 

How did you qualify for this year’s Champions League?

We qualified by winning the Australian Football League Central & Northern England competition (AFLCNE) last season, defeating the Nottingham Scorpions in the final. 

Have you been involved with any pre-season tournaments? If so, how did that go? If not, have you had the chance to play any other teams recently in preparation?

Prior to Christmas, we hosted our annual Movember Cup charity tournament and for the first time since its inception, we actually won the tournament beating our mates the Wandsworth Demons in a great hard fought final. Last weekend we participated in the Haggis Cup in Edinburgh and we were lucky enough to win that tournament for the first time which was also a great result. Only a handful of players played in both tournaments which I think is a credit to our depth.

What can we expect to see from your team this Champions League?

We felt last year we had a team that could have made the final but some wayward kicking by our champion full forward did not help.  With some new additions from last years team, we are hopeful we can do better than last year. It looks like we will have a strong squad and are excited about the opportunity.

Where do you rank competing in the Champions League in the AFL Europe calendar and what does it mean to the team?

Champions League means a lot to our club, it gives us a chance to show we are a good team and can genuinely compete with the rest of the clubs in Europe. Also, it provides a good opportunity for some team building and to have a beer with the other clubs

Do you have any extra bits of information about the club, any funny or interesting stories?

This year our 10 times most improved player Spike Kilheeney will not be playing in the Champions League but instead, be taking on a role as an assistant coach. After speaking with the rest of the coaching panel, they agree his input has been great and they believe it has made him an early favourite for the most improved coach in 2019.

 

 

Women’s competition:

Port Malmö Lynx

Ryan Davidson – Coach

How did you qualify for this year’s Champions League?

The Port Malmö Lynx won the Sweden Cup and the Women’s Nordic Australian Football League (WNAFL), winning in a close encounter by seven points over the Stockholm Dynamite in the Cup Grand Final.

Have you been involved with any pre-season tournaments? If so, how did you go? If not, have you had the chance to play any other teams recently in preparation?

No, we have not had any pre-season matches yet but we are heading up to Stockholm on the 16th March for a practice match. Otherwise, it’s just been indoor off-season training with the rest of the club.

What can we expect to see from your team this Champions League?

We are bringing a squad this year that has worked really hard over the winter with a dedicated core group of players. Longer time to train before the event this year means we have become a lot more experienced and closer as a team. We hope to push the other teams as far as possible and try to reach the final.

Where do you rank competing in the Champions League in the AFL Europe calendar and what does it mean to the team?

For us, it’s almost the same as the Euro Cup, sometimes the quality of football is at an even better standard and therefore we rank it quite highly. Not to mention it’s relatively close for us and it’s a really fun event.

Do you have any extra bits of information about the club, any funny or interesting stories?

Hanna Falkenström our co-caption for the women’s team received the Club-man award for 2018, therefore, being the first woman in the club to receive it. Her dedication over the past 5 years has been key to the success, survival and existence of the Port Malmö Lynx.

 

Angus Boyle – AFL Europe