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17.08.2017, 10:40
Danish champions dream big despite loss of Sagosen
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VELUX EHF Champions League countdown: Aalborg Håndbold (DEN). The Danish champions are confident ahead of their return to Europe's top-level competition.
 

Danish champions dream big despite loss of Sagosen

In 2017 Aalborg Håndbold became Danish champions for the third time, having won the domestic title also in 2010 and 2013.

In the new season, they face the top of European handball in Group B with four former EHF Champions League winners (Kielce, Kiel, Flensburg, Celje) plus PSG, including their former Norwegian top star Sander Sagosen, who has moved from Aalborg to the French capital.

But with the help of their frenetic fans in the Jutlander Bank Arena, Aalborg hope to make it into the Last 16.

Three questions before the new season:

- How will the team fill the void after the loss of Sander Sagosen?

For the new signings and the remaining players it seems a nearly impossible task to replace the star playmaker. The extraordinary Sagosen was being chased by whole Europe – for good reason.

- Is their international experience big enough to fight for the sixth position?

Aalborg did not only lose Sagosen but Iceland international Stefan Sigurmannsson (Szeged), too. On the other hand, Croatian Lovro Jotic is a new arrival with Champions League experience. Still, the young Danish side have Icelandic team captain Arnor Atlason, a classic playmaker, Patrick Wissmach and new goalkeeper Søren Pedersen.

- Do they have enough power to stand the double pressure from Danish league and VELUX EHF Champions League?

The previous years proved that it was hard for the Danish teams in Groups A and B to have the power for success in the knockout stage of the league. But the young Aalborg team seems to be full of strength to cope with both competitions.

 

 

Under spotlight: Søren Pedersen

For the third time in his career, the goalkeeper will wear the Aalborg jersey. After five years at Mors-Thy and Skjern, the 31-year-old has returned to the North. “I come back, richer in experience and hungry for trophies in all competitions,” Pedersen says.

Self-esteem

“We fight for one of the top-six positions in our group and we aim to be among the top four in the Danish league and cup,” club manager Jan Larsen says. Hoop for good results mainly rests on their home strength. “To be part of the VELUX EHF Champions League is very important for our club and for the players. It shows that we are among the best clubs and provides us with a lot of experience for both the club and the players, so that they can improve. The Champions League is also important for our partners and our big audience,” Larsen adds.

Fun fact

Icelandic-born coach Aron Kristjansson steered three different teams in two countries to national league trophies: In Iceland Haukar (three times), in Denmark KIF Kolding-København and now Aalborg Håndbold. He has also been coach of Iceland’s national team for several years.

What the numbers say

Both previous times Aalborg Håndbold qualified for the group phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League, they made it to the Last 16. Both times – in 2013/14 and 2014/15 – they faced FC Barcelona in that stage of the competition. With the Catalan side playing in Group A, the same scenario is possible again.

Aalborg Håndbold (DEN)

Qualification for the VELUX EHF Champions League 2017/18 season: Danish champions

Newcomers: Andreas Holst Jensen (GOG Gudme, Denmark), Søren Pedersen (Skjern Håndbold, Denmark), Jacob Hessellund (Frederikshavn, Denmark), Jesper Meinby (Massy Essonne Handball, France), Sebastian Barthold (Haslum, Norway), Lovro Jotic (RK Zagreb, Croatia)

Left the club: Chris Jørgensen, Christian Jensen (both SønderjyskE, Denmark), Sander Sagosen (Paris Saint-Germain, France), Stefan Sigurmannsson (Pick Szeged, Hungary)

Coach: Aron Kristjansson (since July 2016)

Team captain: Arnor Atlason

VELUX EHF Champions League records:

Participations (including 2017/2018 season): 4
Last 16 (2): 2013/14, 2014/15
Group Phase (1): 2010/11 (AaB Håndbold)

Other EC records:

EHF Cup:
Quarter-final 2003/04, Group Phase 2015/16

EHF Challenge Cup:
Round 4 2002/03

Danish league:
3 titles (2010, 2013, 2017)

Danish cup:
-


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ew
 
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