Berge: Our players will benefit from Group Phase
With a 59:46 win on aggregate 27:23 away and 32:23 at home - against Grundfoss Tatabánya from Hungary, Elverum Handball Herrer from Norway is through the third and last qualification round for the EHF Cup Group Phase as one of two representatives of Norwegian handball, Haslum HK being the other one.
In charge of Elverum is former captain of the Norwegian national team Christian Berge who was also playmaker in German top team SG Flensburg Handewitt for several years.
Since 2008, 39 year old Berge, who played 63 internationals for Norway, has been head coach in Elverum, and his international experience should come in useful for the Norwegians in the EHF Cup.
eurohandball.com: Did it surprise you that your team was able to defeat Tatabánya in so convincing style?
Christian Berge: Yes, as a matter of fact it surprised me a bit. I was expecting more of Tatabánya in advance than I saw, and as we were missing a couple of central players due to injuries, I had my worries – so yes, I was bit surprised that things went so smoothly for us.
eurohandball.com: You are facing RK Sloga, the champions of Bosnia Hercegovina in the final qualification round for the Group Phase. How do you see your chances there?
Christian Berge: Actually, I do not know much about them. I do not have much material about them, but obviously I am going to start working on that right away.
However, it was probably not the worst draw we could get. Considering that fact that we were seeded in Pot 2, I did not expect us to have much of a chance. Now I believe that our chances have increased a bit, and we are definitely determined to go for it.
eurohandball.com: What would it mean to Elverum to reach the Group Phase?
Christian Berge: It would mean a lot. We would inevitably be facing some very attractive teams, and apart from that, it would give a lot of valuable experience to our players.
eurohandball.com: Recently – actually after the start to the season – you got national team goalkeeper Morten Nergaard back from Aalborg. What has it meant to your team that he is back?
Christian Berge: I used to have Morten here in Elverum for several years, so I am really happy to have him back here. He obviously means a lot to our team and not least to our defence.
eurohandball.com: Personally you also have a lot of international experience – from the Norwegian national team as well as from your time in Flensburg. Can that experience help your team in the EHF Cup now?
Christian Berge: I am not really sure how much I can contribute when it comes to that. Of course, that I have experienced a bit in the national team as well as in Flensburg, but it seems to me that the players have to learn how to cope with the European atmosphere by experiencing it themselves.
The difference between playing at home and away is much bigger in European competitions than in our domestic league, and I think the players can only get acquainted with the special feeling of player away in Europe by actually standing in the situation themselves. That is just another reason, why it would mean so much to us to reach that group phase.
Photo: Anita Høiby Gotehus
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br