Countdown, part 9: Randers HK
Their biggest success was tinged with sadness as Randers HK celebrated winning last season's Danish championship, with some of their key players choosing to end their careers on a high.
In 2010 and 2011 Randers had reached the Danish finals but lost against Viborg and Midtjylland one year later. But in 2012, they went all the way. However, two Danish legends had played their last match: Katrine Fruelund, twice Olympics champion, and Mette Melgaard finished their career, becoming Danish champions.
Fruelund is now involved with the management of Randers HK, which also won the EHF Cup in 2010. As well as them, the German duo of Nina Wörz and Susann Müller left to join Krim Mercator in Slovenia.
“It was a brilliant experience to become champions with Randers before leaving, it was a great feeling not only for me, but for the whole team,” said Wörz looking back.
In total nine players left Randers, but seven newcomers arrived in the city of the 2013 EHF European Beach championships, including two international stars: French double world championship runners-up Siraba Dembele and Macarena Aguilar, 2011 EHF Champions League finalist with Itxako and Olympic bronze medallist with Spain.
So coach Jan Leslie has to build-up a new team which hopes to proceed for the Main Round for the first time in their third appearance in the EHF Champions League. While the club management almost all agree that the group will be won by Vâlcea, the remaining three teams of Randers, Buxtehude and Hypo are all fairly equal and will have to fight for the second spot in the Main Round.
Three questions to coach Jan Leslie:
ehfCL.com: What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the Women’s EHF Champions League?
Jan Leslie: I think that Valcea, Krim and Györ will make it to the semi-finals and the last team will either be Larvik or FTC from Hungary. In our group Valcea will be first, they have a good squad with many great players and have the power to reach the final. The second place will be a tough fight, all three teams are favourites in their home-matches and all have squads which are able to reach the Main Round. It will be interesting to see which teams have the best start and which players and teams will be strongest on match day.
ehfCL.com: What does participating in the Women’s EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?
Jan Leslie: It is good for the team, the club and the town that we are in the Champions League because it is something special and we meet teams who play good and fast and it will develop our team very much.
ehfCL.com: What teams are your personal favourites to win the Women’s EHF Champions League season – and why?
Jan Leslie: I think Györ and Vâlcea are favourites to come to the final and that Krim, Larvik, FTC and Zvezda have the change for the semi-finals.
Randers HK (DEN)
Qualification for the Women’s EHF Champions League 2012/2013 season: Danish champions
Newcomers: Ulrika Ågren (Team Esbjerg), Siraba Dembele (Toulon), Freja Cohrt (FC Midtjylland, Sabina Jacobsen (Lugi), Macarena Aguilar (Itxako Navarro), Sara Brüner (youth team Randers HK), Cecilie Hansen (youth team Randers HK)
Left the club: Mette Melgaard (retired), Mie Augustesen (Thüringer, Tyskland), Gitte Aaen (Søndermarken - 2. division), Katrine Fruelund (retired), Nina Wörz (Krim), Susann Müller (Krim), Stephanie Andersen (Silkeborg-Voel KFUM), Simone Böhme (Silkeborg-Voel KFUM), Veronica Cuadrado (KIF Vejen)
Coach: Jan Leslie since 2009
Women’s EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2012/2013 season): 3
Group Phase: 2010/11, 2011/12
Other EC records:
Danish champions: 2012 (Runners-up: 2009/10, 2010/11)
Danish Cup winners: -
Find more information about Randers HK HERE
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TEXT: Björn Pazen