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28.09.2011, 09:00
The long way around
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EHF Women’s Champions League countdown, part 15: Viborg HK (DEN)
 

The long way around

It was a long way for the three times EHF Women’s Champions League winner to reach their eighth straight (and 16th in total) participation in the major club competition.

Wild Card Qualification

After finishing third in Denmark Viborg HK received an EHF ‘wild card’ for the qualification tournament.

Carried out nearly on home ground – the matches were played in Grenaa near Viborg – the Danes were unstoppable by beating Russian runners-up Rostov in the semi-finals and Romanians from Cluj in the final.

So they went through the back door to continue their success.

Legend team group

In Group B, Viborg will have to face only current or former EHF Champions League winners: Larvik, Krim and Koprivnica.

Key players have left

Since top star Bojana Popovic left the club in 2010, three more experienced players are gone: Carmen Amariei, Maja Savic and Gorica Acimovic.

But despite those transfers Viborg’s German pivot Anja Althaus says: "Our team is stronger than last season."

Strong reinforcements

Newcomers are Danish international Maria Fisker from their rivals from Randers and Swedish international Isabelle Gulldén, coming from Sävehof.

Both have shown a strong performance in the preparation and in the first matches of the new season. Another newcomer, Julie Aagaard, is currently out with a broken nose.

Managing director will leave

But changes did not only occur on court, but will also occur in the club board, as managing director Peter Cassøe will resign in a year.

Main Round as goal

After winning the titles in 2006, 2009 and 2010 the season objective has become smaller in the meantime: to reach the Main Round.

But Viborg know what they are talking about, as they were eliminated in the Group Stage last season as defending champions.

Aside it is the aim to go to the Danish final, which they missed last season after losing in the semi-final against Randers.

Mikkelsen believes in second place

For VHK team captain Henriette Mikkelsen "the group is very exciting. All four teams are excellent and have lots of EHF Champions League experience.

Even though we have very strong opponents, our chances are good. In my opinion we have to advance from the group. It will be hard, but it is not impossible.

I definitely see Larvik as group favourites, but it’s very open for the second spot."

Other teams in her view

Mikkelsen’s opinion about the group opponents:

Larvik: "The defending champions have a great team. They will be very hard to beat, but I also believe they are a bit weakened as Gro Hammerseng is out of the team.

I am happy that we’re playing them at home in the first match. I think we have a very good chance to make a surprise and beat them in that game."

Krim Ljubljana: "They made a lot of changes, but they still have a good team.

It will of course be interesting for us to see how our former team mates Gorica Acimovic and Kristina Bille have settled in with them."

Podravka: "On paper, they may be the weakest team, but they have a lot of EHF Champions League experience.

It is never easy to win in Koprivnica where Podravka have a very good home court."

Three questions to coach Martin Albertsen

ehfCL.com: What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the EHF Champions League – concerning your objectives and your group opponents?

Martin Albertsen: We have a tough group with the current defending champions and two additional very strong teams.

Larvik are the group favourites as they are defending champions.

They are weaker than last year, as Løke has left and Gro Hammerseng is pregnant. But they still have a superb keeper duo and a team on highest level.

All teams in the EHF Champions League would have problems with Krim, and they seem to be very strong this season.

I really like their newcomer Franic, who is a very good all-round player. They also have Penezic, who all top teams tried to get a hold of.

Also Podravka Vegeta is stronger than last year. A very strong home team where all players know each other very well.

We are in the process of building a high level team for the future, and I believe we can do a good impression in EHF Champions League.

We have a great team spirit this season and each player love to play handball.

ehfCL.com: What does the participation in the EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?

Martin Albertsen: We are looking forward to play EHF Women’s Champions League.

It always means something special to play on the blue floor. For me and the team it’s a great challenge to achieve a good result among so many great teams.

ehfCL.com: What teams are your personal favourites for winning the title this season – and why?

Martin Albertsen: Györ are my favourites. In my opinion Lekic, Løke and Radecivic were just what they needed.

Radecivic will give Györ the aggressive attitude. Lekic and Løke are both high class.

Other candidates for the title are Budućnost, Vâlcea, Larvik, and Itaxo because of their experienced players.

However other teams might be able to become the big surprise!

Club facts – Viborg HK (DEN)

Newcomers: Maria Fisker (Randers HK), Isabelle Gulldén (IK Sävehof/SWE), Julie Aagaard (Aalborg DH), Pernille Holst Larsen (HC Odense)

Left the club: Gorica Acimovic (RK Krim/SLO), Maja Savic (Buducnost Podgorica/MNE), Carmen Amariei (CSM Cetate Deva/ROU), Pia Hildebrand (Rosengarten/GER), Katja Lausen-Marcher (Slagelse FH)

Coach: Martin Albertsen, since 2011

Qualification for the 2011/2012 EHF Women’s Champions League season: Winner of Qualification Tournament 1, third ranked in Denmark

EHF Women’s Champions League records:
Participations (including 2011/2012 season): 16
Winner: 2005/06, 2008/09, 2009/10
Finalist: 1996/97, 2000/01
Semi-finalist: 2002/03
Quarter-finals: 1997/98, 2004/05, 2006/07
Last 16: 1994/95
Main Round: 2007/08
Group Phase: 1995/96, 1999/00, 2001/02, 2010/11

EHF Cup records: Winner: 1993/94, 1998/99, 2003/04

Danish champion: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010
Danish Cup winner: 1994, 1996, 1997, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011

Further information

Find more information on Viborg HK HERE.

Join the growing community of handball fans on Facebook!
www.facebook.com/ehf.champions.league


TEXT: Björn Pazen
 
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