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06.10.2015, 11:10
Larvik go from the hunted to the hunters
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Women’s EHF Champions League club countdown: 10 days to go - Larvik Handballklubb (NOR)
 

Larvik go from the hunted to the hunters

By cheating the gallows with their financial problems, keeping nearly the same successful squad from the 2014/15 season and having a former coach back in the hot seat: Larvik HK remain one of the main contenders to reach the Women’s EHF FINAL4 in Budapest.

In May 2015, they had their first appearance at the pinnacle event of women’s club handball, making it to the final against Buducnost.

There, the Norwegian record champions failed to lift their second Champions League trophy after their 2011 success.

In June, Tor Odvar Moen became the successor of Ole Gustav Gjekstad, starting the mission to rejuvenate the team.

Defence boss Tonje Larsen ended her career and is now Moen’s assistant on the bench, Linn Sulland has transferred to 2013 and 2014 champions Györ and also line player Isabel Blanco has also left Larvik.

Some talented players have joined the squad mainly from the club’s youth programme, and the biggest name among the new arrivals is a well-known face in Larvik: Amanda Kurtovic, who is back, where it all started.

With a highly competitive team, Larvik aim to lift all domestic trophies in Norway and to qualify for the Women's EHF FINAL4 again.

Moen is confident of being able to compete with the best of the best:

“Despite working through a very tough financial situation, we still feel that we have a very strong team with a small number, but exciting newcomers.

“In addition, if players like Tine Stange and Alina Wojtas recover from their injuries in time, we will be even stronger.

“We would very much like to see ourselves back in Budapest in May 2016, but we know that the road to the FINAL4 will be a little bit harder this time.

“Many teams have strengthened their squads, so this season will probably be the best tournament ever.”

Experienced team captain and former world handball player of the year, Gro Hammerseng-Edin expects Larvik to be strong too:

“Some say, that we have a slightly smaller group of players this season, but when I look around I see quality and experience in all directions.

“Thus, we would love another shot at Budapest this season! Many teams have brought in some strong reinforcements during the summer, and this will probably give us the role of the hunters, not the hunted.”

In Group A Larvik will face Krim, Rostov and Baia Mare, and this are no easy matches according to Moen:

“Rostov are new for us. The Russians are seen by many to be our toughest opponent, as they have reinforced their squad with some really good players.

“Baia Mare are tough to beat especially in their home matches.

“Their squad has changed a lot, since we beat them twice, and now they look more like a real team.

“They are a dark horse that could go a long way in this competition.

“Krim are still building a new team and maybe they are weakest link in this group, but you always have to watch out for the underdog.”

Gro Hammerseng-Edin expects a similar run-down in the group matches:

“Rostov have strengthened their team with many quality players, but we will have to see how they work in a group.

“Krim are no newcomers for us, but they have seen huge turnover in their squad, and that makes it hard for me to rate them.

“They can create trouble for all of their opponents.

“In Baia Mare have changed during the summer, and it looks like they have grown together as a group with their new coach.

“They will be a strong opponent in this group.”

With new challenges, everybody in Norway is looking forward to the start of the Women’s EHF Champions League, knowing that it is the most important competition for the club:

“The Champions League means almost everything for Larvik. Our goals and ambitions go far beyond the domestic competitions. Proving ourselves in this tournament is what makes us a living. It is as easy as that,” says Moen.

Larvik Handballklubb (NOR)

Qualification for the 2015/16 EHF Women’s Champions League season: Norwegian champions

Newcomers:  Amanda Kurtovic (Oppsal), Jenny Osnes Graesholt (Nordstrand), Hanne Svela (junior team), Lena Lowe (junior team), Helene Glemming (junior team)

Left the club:  Linn Jorum Sulland (Györ), Tonje Larsen (end of career, assistant coach), Isabel Blanco, Tine Rustad Albertsen, Sofie Heide Lund (Skrim Kongsberg)

Coach: Tor Odvar Moen (since 2015, successor Ole Gustav Gjekstad)

Team captain: Gro Hammerseng-Edin

Opponents in the group matches: Krim, Rostov, Baia Mare in Group A

EHF Women’s Champions League records:

Participations (including 2015/16 season):  17
Winner: 2010/11
Finalist: 2012/13, 2014/15
Semi-finalist: 2001/02, 2003/04, 2009/10, 2011/12
Quarter-finals: 2000/01, 2002/03, 2006/07
Group matches/Champions League: 1994/95, 1997/98, 2005/06, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2013/14

Other EC records:

Cup Winners Cup:
Winner 2004/05, 2007/08
Semi-finalist 1996/97, 2005/06

EHF Cup:
Finalist 2005/06
Norwegian champions: 1994, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Norwegian Cup winners: 1996, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015


TEXT: Björn Pazen / bc
 
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