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25.10.2018, 10:00
Johan Hansen continues journey to the top
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FEATURE: Once a Faroe Islands international, the Danish right wing of Bjerringbro-Silkeborg is now the leading goal scorer in the VELUX EHF Champions League
 

Johan Hansen continues journey to the top

Two of Denmark’s best right wings have Faroese roots. But while Füchse Berlin’s Hans Lindberg was born in Denmark, Bjerringbro-Silkeborg Johan a Plogv Hansen was actually born and raised in the North Atlantic country.

Hansen, the top goal scorer of the VELUX EHF Champions League 2018/19 after five rounds, represented the Faroe Islands for the first years of his career before changing his nationality to Danish.

There is no doubt that Faroe Islands’ current national coach, Sonni Larsen, would love to have Hansen in his squad for the upcoming EHF EURO 2020 Qualifiers. Hansen, on the other hand, would have loved to play for Denmark against his former country when the two teams meet in Qualification Group 8 on Saturday.

"Johan could reinforce almost any national team in the world"

Hansen has played for the Danish national team but is not part of coach Nikolaj Jacobsen’s current squad.

“Johan could undoubtedly reinforce almost any national team in the world,” says Hansen’s coach at Bjerringbro-Silkeborg, Peter Bredsdorff-Larsen. “But here in Denmark, we have the best right wing duo in the world with Lasse Svan and Hans Lindberg.”

Hansen, though, is aware that he has time to wait for his chance: “I am only 24 years old, while Svan and Lindberg are 35 and 37, so I am sure my time will come."

Hansen has made a brilliant start to the VELUX EHF Champions League season. He netted 14 times in Bjerringbro-Silkeborg’s season-opener against Chekhovskie Medvedi, and his total of goals has risen to 37 after five rounds.

“We have got the opportunity to run many fast breaks in the matches we have played so far, and that is an important part of the reason why I have scored so many goals,” Hansen says. “However, when my teammates notice that I am reliable at hitting the net, they tend to give me even more passes, which lead to even more goals.”

No wonder his coach at the Danish side is full of praise for Hansen.

“He is very strong physically, he is extremely fast and he possesses enormous jumping power,” says Bredsdorff-Larsen. “He can still improve, however. In particular, he needs more stability.”

Hansen agrees, adding he is only “beginning to be back at the level I had before I tore my anterior cruciate ligament last year.”

To him, it will be extra important to get far in the VELUX EHF Champions League this season.

Hansen sat out most of last season

In 2016/17, Hansen was on 37 goals from Bjerringbro-Silkeborg’s first 10 matches in Group A, when his team faced Orlen Wisla Plock in Poland on 18 February 2017. Hansen had added two more goals and the Danish visitors were leading 15:13 when Hansen, in a fast break just before half-time, fell and tore his ACL.

Plock went on to win the match 28:25, and Hansen obviously missed his team’s Last 16 matches against MOL-Pick Szeged. He also sat out most of last season.

“Of course, it is an advantage this season that we can expect to win most of our matches, unlike if we were playing in Group A or B,” Hansen says. “Even though we are also meeting good teams in Group C, we would like to play against the best. Therefore, we will obviously do everything possible to proceed from our groups and hopefully go on to the Last 16 from the play-offs.”

Bjerringbro-Silkeborg only have to look 70 kilometres to the west to see what another Danish team was able to achieve, coming from Groups C/D last season.

Skjern Handbold went all the way to the quarter-final, where eventual finalists HBC Nantes put an end to their dream of reaching the VELUX EHF FINAL4.

“Of course, we are all full of admiration for Skjern’s achievement last season, and it is just as obvious that we dream of copying it,” Hansen says. “So far, I think we have done OK, apart from a narrow defeat in Presov, and I definitely expect us to go on from our group.”

Cautious about next match against Besiktas

Hansen’s next appearance in the VELUX EHF Champions League will be a visit from Turkish champions Besiktas Mogaz to Denmark on 4 November. Even though his side won the away match in Turkey 37:24, including nine goals from Hansen, the right wing is still a bit cautious.

“In the first match they were missing their right back, Ramazan Döne,” Hansen says. “I expect him to be in their team next time, and that will make them much better. But still, it is a game we should win, of course.”


TEXT: Peter Bruun / ew
 
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