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20.09.2018, 12:00
Confident debutants want to make an impact
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Women's EHF Champions League Countdown: Odense HC (DEN). The team from Hans Christian Andersen's hometown dreams big ahead of its maiden season in Europe's top flight
 

Confident debutants want to make an impact

Last season, Odense HC were widely regarded as favourites to win the Danish championship.

They just failed to do so and finished runners-up, but that hasn’t lowered their expectations going into their first ever Women’s EHF Champions League season.

According to captain Kamilla Kristensen, Odense can beat all opponents in their group.

Three questions before the season:

- How will Odense perform as Champions League debutants?


With seven Danish, one Brazilian and one Dutch international in their squad, and with former national coach Jan Pytlick as head coach, Odense should have the potential to go far. And according to the CEO, Lars Peter Hermansen, there is no doubt about the minimum objective.

“It is very interesting for Odense to participate in the best handball competition in the world. Our main goal is simple: we want to get to the next round,” Hermansen says, at the same time looking forward to presenting the home crowd in Odense with some interesting opponents, which include Buducnost, Metz and Larvik.

“The teams Odense are playing against, are good and interesting. I am sure that we will play six very close games, and we are looking forward to present and play against these teams for handball fans in Odense,” Hermansen says.

- What will it mean to have former national coach Jan Pytlick as head coach?

A lot, beyond doubt. Pytlick will be able to use his enormous international experience and his huge knowledge about women’s handball all over Europe to the benefit of his team.

Also, his international experience does not only come from his many years as national coach. He also possesses Champions League experience from his time with HC Vardar a few years ago.

- What will the signing of Dutch national team goalkeeper Tess Wester mean to the team’s chances?

Already last season, Odense had a brilliant goalkeeper duo in Emily Stang Sando and Althea Reinhardt. But the arrival of Wester, which led to the departure of Sando, is a further reinforcement of the goalkeeper position.

Her experience from the Dutch national team as well as from the Champions League with German side SGBBM Bietigheim will also come in useful to her new team.

Self-esteem

Odense know they are good, but they also realise that being debutants in the Champions League is something special.

“Our goal is to get to the main round. We will use the matches to develop our game, get amazing experiences and gain experience with playing against some of the greatest teams in the world,” team captain Kamilla Kristensen says.

“Buducnost, Metz and Larvik are three teams with great experience on the international handball scene, but I also believe that Odense is able to match and beat them.”

Kristensen know what she is talking about: she won the Champions League title three times in the past, with Slagelse DT in 2004, 2005 and 2007.

Under the spotlight: Stine Jørgensen

Even in a squad which is not short of stars, Stine Jørgensen stands out as a key player for Odenese.

The experienced Danish international, who joined from FC Midtjylland in 2017, carries a lot of responsibility on the left back position. Her shot variation and her experience are crucial to the success of Odense.

Fun fact

Despite his long career and huge international experience, there is still a first for Jan Pytlick this season: it will be the first time that he is in charge of a Danish team in the Women’s EHF Champions League.

What the numbers say

Defence rules: Odense conceded just 55 goals in their first three domestic league matches in Denmark this season. It is a clear hint that the team contains a very strong defence.

Odense Handball Club (DEN)

Qualified for the EHF Women’s Champions League 2018/19 season: Danish runners-up

Newcomers: Tess Wester (SG BBM Bietigheim, GER), Sara Hald (TTH Holstebro, DEN), Ingvild Bakkerud (Skrim Kongsberg, NOR)

Left the club: Emily Sando (København Håndbold, DEN), Stine Svangaard (Le Havre, FRA), Pearl van der Wissel (retired)

Coach: Jan Pytlick (since 2016)

Team captain: Kamilla Kristensen

Women’s EHF Champions League records:

Participations (including 2018/19 season): 1

Other European Cup records:

EHF Cup:
Quarter-final: 2015/16

Cup Winners’ Cup:
Last 16: 2013/14, Round 3: 2014/15

Danish league:
no titles

Danish cup:
no titles


TEXT: Peter Bruun / ew
 
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