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07.10.2014, 13:22
Hoping for a memorable anniversary year
«Go back »Print Version


Women’s EHF Champions League countdown, part 7: Next year marks Larvik’s 25th anniversary and the club hope to earn themselves the perfect birthday present – a trip to Budapest.
 

Hoping for a memorable anniversary year

This season the Women’s EHF Champions League 2011 winners and 2013 finalists, Larvik, aim to reclaim their position of dominance as one of the best four teams of the competition; a feat that would earn them a spot at the FINAL4 in May 2015 – exactly 25 years after the Norwegian club was founded in May 1990. 

In those 25 years Larvik has dominated Norwegian women’s club handball like no other team before, winning the domestic championship 16 times and the cup competition 14 times.

The biggest off-season change to the experienced side occurred between the posts – legendary goalkeepers Cecilie Leganger and Lene Rantala have both retired from professional handball to be replaced by young Dane Sandra Toft. 

Ambitious new arrivals including Norwegian World and Olympic Champion Marit Malm Frafjord and Polish international Alina Wojtas have boosted the already strong squad further. Wojtas and Toft are the only non-Norwegians in the team. 

Assistant coach Tor Odvar Moen expects a clear improvement from last season, particularly on the international level – Larvik progressed only as far as the main round of matches in the EHF Champions League 2013/14. 

“This season we have a team with much more depth than before. The newcomers are growing into the team with every day that goes by, and I feel that the players who were here last year are very eager to hit back from how our last international season ended in March. We will fight hard to get back among the top four!” Moen said. 

Former World Handball Player of the Year and Larvik team captain Gro Hammerseng-Edin feels “a new energy in the team and the hunger to fight back from last season when we were very disappointed with the outcome in the Champions League.

“The fact that we have several new players brings the competition for playing time to a new level, which I believe is very healthy. We will fight hard to get back among the four best teams this season, but I do know that many of the other teams look stronger this year as well. This edition of the Champions League will be amazing!” Hammerseng-Edin concludes.

Three questions to coach Ole Gustav Gjekstad:

Concerning your objectives and your group opponents, what are your expectations for the upcoming season of the Women’s EHF Champions League?

Ole Gustav Gjekstad: I think we are a better team this season, with some exciting new players. That leads us to have high expectations for the Champions League, so a place in the FINAL4 is our goal. Our opponents in the group stage are teams that are unknown for us. We have never faced Metz and Baia Mare before, and have not played against Lublin for many years. All three teams are national champions in great handball countries, so there will obviously be a lot of hard matches. Still, we think we have the quality in our team to qualify for the next stage.

What does participation in the Women’s EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?

Ole Gustav Gjekstad: Larvik HK has won the domestic league for the last ten consecutive years, and although we have had some close matches against Norwegian teams, the big challenge is to face the best teams in Europe. Our goals are designed to help us be in contention with the best clubs in the world. 

Which teams are your personal favourites to reach the FINAL4 tournament of the Women’s EHF Champions League season – and why?

Ole Gustav Gjekstad: My favourites to be a part of the FINAL4 are some of the teams that were there last season – Györ, Vardar and Buducnost look strong again this year. However, we hope to be one of the contenders for the FINAL4, and there are also other teams that could qualify, like Baia Mare, Viborg or Thüringer HC. 

Qualification for the Women’s EHF Champions League 2014/15 season: Norwegian champions

Newcomers:

Alina Wojtas (MKS Selgros Lublin)

Marit Malm Frafjord (Viborg HK)

Sandra Toft (Team Tvis Holstebro)

Mari Kristine Sobstad Molid (Levanger HK)

Sanna Charlotte Solberg (Stabaek Handball)

 

Left the club: 

Lene Rantala (retired)

Cecilie Leganger (retired)

Kari Mette Johansen (retired)

Jeanette Kristiansen (Glassverket IF)

 

Coach: Ole Gustav Gjekstad (since 2011)

 

EHF Women’s Champions League records:

Participations (including 2014/15 season):  16

Winner (1): 2010/11

Finallist (1): 2012/13

Semi-finalist (4): 2001/02, 2003/04, 2009/10, 2011/12

Quarter-finalist (3): 2000/01, 2002/03, 2006/07

Main round (1): 2013/14

Group phase (5): 1994/95, 1997/98, 2005/06, 2007/08, 2008/09

 

Other EC records:

 

Cup Winners’ Cup:

Winner (2):  2004/05, 2007/08

Finalist (1): 2008/09

Semi-finalist (2): 1996/97, 2005/06

Quarter-finalist (1): 1998/99

Last 16 (1): 1999/00 

 

Champions Trophy:

Finalist (1): 2007/08 

 

EHF Cup:

Finalist (1): 1995/96

 

Norwegian league: 16 titles (1994, 1997, 2000-2003, 2005-2014)

Norwegian cup: 14 titles (1996, 1998, 2000, 2003-2014)


TEXT: Björn Pazen
 
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