Panthers kick off with Danish visit

PETERBOROUGH Panthers start their 40th consecutive season with an enthralling challenge match against an exciting looking Danish Select on Thursday.The Danes led by Hans Andersen and Nicki Pedersen look dangerous opponents and an upset is definitely possible, bearing in mind this will be against a new look Panthers side who won't have been given time to settle down.

PETERBOROUGH Panthers start their 40th consecutive season with an enthralling challenge match against an exciting looking Danish Select on Thursday.

The Danes led by Hans Andersen and Nicki Pedersen look dangerous opponents and an upset is definitely possible, bearing in mind this will be against a new look Panthers side who won't have been given time to settle down. Charlie Gjedde, Ulrich Ostergaard and Nicolia Klindt complete the solid looking Danish top 5, with Patrick Hougaard likely to provide a lively reserve partnership with Rene Bach.

Danish team manager Jan Staechmann takes charge of the Danish select and having won two World Cups already, he clearly knows how to get the best out of his team.

Jan Staechmann said: “The East of England Showground holds good memories for the Danes. Back in 2002 the young Danes were complete underdogs for the World Cup, but their silver medal success indicated an imminent return to speedway's big time. We now have a reputation to uphold, and although we're not fielding our strongest line up, we're certainly not there to make up the numbers”.


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Panther's top guns Kenneth Bjerre and Niels Kristian Iversen will clearly be very keen to beat their opposite numbers, and whether they do so could be the difference between the Panthers winning or losing on the night.

Panthers No.1 Kenneth Bjerre said: “This opening match is going to be very hard, apart from Ren� Bach they are all Elite League riders and know the track well, especially Hans and Nicki. I think every member of our team has got to be going well on the night for us to pull this off, and we will just have to wait and see. All the Danes are fighting for a World Cup place so I don't expect anyone to give less than 100%. I have had a few spins already and had no reaction from the leg at all, I am very pleased to be busy and everything is going well”.

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New Panther for 2009 Mad Korneliussen heads the back up and everyone will be hoping he can repeat his form of 2008 when he scored an impressive paid 15 return at the Showground in June. Completing the Peterborough top 5 are Ales Dryml, who returns to the Panthers team for the first time since 2005, and the exciting raw talent of Karol Zabik who finished 2008 in dynamic form.

Claus Vissing and Lee Complin fill the reserve berths and potentially they are one of the strongest reserve pairings in the Elite League, if they start off from where they left off in 2008, it promises to be an exciting night and indeed season at the Showground.

Team Manager Trevor Swales said: “It will be good to see old friends in the opposition in Hans, Nikki, Ulrich, and also Rene, I am very sure that the Danish select led by Jan will prove to be one of the toughest if not the toughest meetings we will encounter this year at the Showground.

In Nikki they have the current world champion and I'm sure a champion of the future in Hans, I'm sure all the lads will be out to impress, for one reason or another. Many will feel that this is a friendly; wrong no race is anything other than a stepping stone to be the best in your chosen sport. I am very sure that all the boys on both sides will be out to win. We must be at 100% to ensure that we start as we mean to go on throughout the season. Let's all hope we have a true night of magic and secure that first win of 2009”.

Promoter Mick Bratley said: “What a tasty clash this is going to be!! In all honesty we will do well to overcome such powerful opposition; it's going to be a challenge in every sense of the word, possibly the stiffest challenge at Alwalton in 2009, who knows!! Can we beat the Danish Select side? Well we can, but we've got to hit the ground running; for sure though it will be an intriguing meeting and not one, I suspect, for the faint hearted”.

Owner Rick Frost said: “I'm confident we have put together a 2009 team that is more than capable of winning the title this year and will give our loyal supporters something to really look forward to in the coming months. Also a big thanks to my management team who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes putting this team together and planning for this year. Thanks also to all of you who have helped prepare our stadium for this season by painting fences etc. Our opening meeting against the Danish Select team will be a great start to our season, followed by a firework spectacular, so get there early to beat the queues! We have proved already we are virtually unbeatable at home and with this team and your support we aim to do the same at away fixtures and make our fortieth anniversary a year we will always remember".

Teams

Peterborough Panthers

Kenneth Bjerre (7.88), Niels Kristian Iversen (7.80), Mads Korneliussen (6.97), Karol Zabik (4.56), Ales Dryml (4.53), Claus Vissing (4.47) & Lee Complin (3.64)

Team Managers Trevor & Wayne Swales

Danish Select

Nicki Pedersen (10.46), Hans Andersen (9.16), Charlie Gjedde (7.86), Ulrich Ostergaard (5.17), Nicolai Klindt (4.47), Patrick Hougaard (4.00) & Rene Bach (4.00)

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