EHF Cup countdown, part 3: Elverum Handball Herrer (NOR)
Elverum Handball Herrer had to go the long way round before reaching their first objective of this season, the Group Phase of the EHF Cup.
The Norwegians had to go through all three qualification rounds, maintaining a perfect record of six victories in six matches, to earn their biggest ever international success, after reaching the quarter-final of the EHF Cup Winners’ Cup in the 2010/11 season.
The two ten goal victories against Bosnian champions Sloga in the third round showed the skills and ambition of coach Christian Berge’s team.
Now Elverum are eager to transfer their European form to the national league, where they are aiming for their first domestic championship title.
For club director Tonje Nohr Smedstad, the participation in the Group Phase of the EHF Cup is a multi-faceted experience:
“It will be a learning situation and a motivation for the further development of the club regarding sports and management. It will also be a new experience for our supporters and partners. We hope that we can surprise some of the other teams.”
Team captain Steffen Stegavik is looking forward to face the professional teams in Europe and play in full arenas: “I also hope that our team will learn something both on and off the court for the future.”
Three questions to coach Christian Berge:
What are your expectations for the Group Phase of the EHF Cup - concerning your objectives and your group opponents?
Christian Berge: Our expectation is to play good handball against teams that are stronger than us. We will try to win some of our home matches and we are looking forward to meet some of the best teams in Europe. It will be good learning process for our team to play those matches.
What does the participation in the Group Phase of the EHF Cup mean to you and your club?
Christian Berge: It is very important for our team to participate, we need to take another step forward and matches against good teams will be challenging and exciting for all of our players. As club we are proud to have made it to the Group Phase.
What teams are your personal favourites to reach the final tournament of the EHF Cup?
Christian Berge: Maybe Kolding are the favourite to win.
Elverum Handball Herrer (NOR) – Group C
The road to the Group Stage:
Round 1: 26:25, 40:29 against United HC Tongeren
Round 2: 27:23, 32:23 against Grundfos Tatabanya KC
Round 3: 34:24, 37:27 against HC Sloga
Newcomers: Garan Rajkovic (Spercva Vinkovci), Lazo Majnov (Meskov Brest), Karl Anders Victor Björkman (H43 Lund), Ari Sigurdur Stefansson (Bodø) and Jørgen Bakke (LFH 09)
Left the club: Christoffer Rambo (Dunkergue), Odin Sundland (Kolstad), Kim Andre Rinnan (Kolstad) and Mads Refseth Wæraas (Kolstad).
Coach: Christian Berge since 1 June 2008.
Biggest successes in EHF European Cup competitions:
EHF Cup: 3 appearances – Last 32 1995/96, Round 3 2008/09, Round 2 2011/12
EHF Cup Winners’ Cup: 1 appearance – quarter-finalists 2010/11
Norwegian Cup: winners 2008
The 39 years-old played 63 matches and scored 251 goals for Norwegian national team, where he was the centre back and captain for many years. With German side SG Flensburg-Handewitt he became a German league champion and cup winner. He ended his playing career with Danish league club Aarhus GF, where he also made his first acquaintance with the life as coach, as assistant coach in the club. Elverum HH is his first head coach position.
Born on 13 November 1991
At the age of 15 Gullerud left home to go to Elverum to pursue his dream to play handball at top level. Today he is a crucial figure in the Elverum team, he was named the best player in their 19:22 cup final loss to FyllingenBergen.
Just 21 years-old, Gullerud has also established himself in the Norwegian national team, where he has appeared 10 times so far. Here, he plays alongside his idol Bjarte Myrhol, who plays the same position, as a line player.
Born on 27 December 1983
After having seen Andreas Rønnberg during a trial stay in Elverum in the early summer of 2010, head coach Christian Berge decided that the Finnish back court player was the kind of guy the Norwegian team needed, and a week later the contract was a fact.
What mainly caught Berge´s eye was the fact that although Rønnberg is basically a playmaker, he can actually play all positions in the backcourt line. Rønnberg is one of Finland’s best players, scoring 28 goals for the national team in their last five EHF EURO qualifiers, including 10 goals in their 28:21 win over Luxembourg in October 2012.
Find more information on Elverum Handball Herrer here
The schedule of the Men´s EHF Cup Group Phase can be found here
TEXT: Björn Pazen, Peter Bruun / cor