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21.01.2009, 09:45
Eight strong teams
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Viborg coach Jakob Vestergaard talks about the teams of the CL and about his expectations in the Main Round.
 

Eight strong teams

Viborg HK qualified for the main round once again. In contrast to last year, the champions of 2006 qualified from the first place in their group.

Eurohancball.com talks to Viborg´s head coach Jakob Vestergaard about the perspectives of his team.Viborg reached the main round without a doubt

Eurohandball.com: What would you say about the teams that qualified for the main round?

Jakob Vestergaard: These are eight top teams to fight for the semi-final places. It was important to win our group in order to get the easiest possible draw. Anyway, we could only expect a really tough draw and the semi-finals are still far away.

Eurohandballl.com: Were you surprised by anything in the group stage in general, or those teams qualified who you expected?

Jakob Vestergaard: I was a bit surprised by the “dynamite group” with Valcea, Podravka, Larvik and Lada. I knew that injuries might handicap Lada, but I would have expected Larvik’s experience to let them qualify together with Valcea and not the otherwise very talented team from Podravka.

Furthermore, I expected Zvezda Zvenigorod to do better in their group. I think our own group was really strong, where the greatest surprise was Metz winning away against Krim. Finally, I’m a bit surprised that no team managed to go through the group stage undefeated.

The team improved respect to last year, the coach saysEurohandball.com: Is this a proof that women’s European top handball is getting more balanced?

Jakob Vestergaard: There is absolutely no doubt about that. Actually I think that all eight teams have a fair chance to win the Champions League. Some of them will obviously need more luck than others, but for instance we know that when we have to play in the South Eastern part of Europe, there will be a tremendous atmosphere in the halls, which will put us under a lot of pressure. I really believe that the main round is pretty open this time.

Eurohandball.com: Many people see your team as the greatest favourites…

Jakob Vestergaard: Of course I hope that we can make it and that is what we are training hard for every day. But we have to realise that we were fortunate to have very few injuries so far. No doubt: if we do not do our best every match from now on, we will lose. It’s not like the Danish league where we can still win on a bad day. Against the other seven teams in the main round we will lose if we are not on top.

Eurohandball.com: Do these big expectations put pressure on the players?

Popovic is playing in top formJakob Vestergaard: No, not at all. Except for maybe one match, we got used to be favourites each time we enter the court – in the Champions League as well as in the domestic league – and this only adds to our motivation!

Eurohandball.com: What’s your opinion about your Main Round group?

Jakob Vestergaard: I’m not sure if it would have been any easier to meet Győr or Oltchim Valcea, who were the other group winners of the group stage. I expect Valcea to be particularly strong in the main round, as rumours say they will sign Neagu and Horvath from Rulmetul Brasov. We also know that Győr are extremely strong team.

We have not forgotten, of course, that we were knocked out in the main round by Hypo Niederösterreich last season, but I think that we improved quite a lot since then.

The matches against Ikast will be very interesting local derbies, where we will not only feel the Champions League atmosphere, but also that of the Danish league.

Podravka may be the most talented team among the eight teams. They have a lot of interesting young players with a lot of potential. We want to take revenge against them as we lost by one goal there in a group match two years ago. In general, we are really looking forward to this main round.


TEXT: Peter Bruun
 
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