Proudly flying the Danish flag
Only two of 16 Champions League Group Matches participants count on female coaches – aside Spanish champions Bera Bera, Danish champions FC Midtjylland are the one.
Helle Thomsen, who has been coaching FCM since April 2012, can count on nearly the same squad as last season, as only two players left and one newcomer arrived.
FCM have an almost all-Danish squad, with German goalkeeper Sabine Englert and Dutch wing Nicke Groot the only ones with a different passport to their teammates – and after Holstebro and Viborg failed in the qualification, Midtjylland are the only club from a country with six EHF Champions League titles within 2004 and 2010 (Slagelse and Viborg, three times each) in this season’s competition.
Just like in 2011, Midtjylland became Danish champions for the second timer after changing their name from Ikast-Bording and like two years ago, FCM are aiming for the main round.
They will face Buducnost, FTC and Lublin in the race for the top eight of the competition and for FCM manager Torben Kølbæk, the upcoming season is something special for his club.
“Being the only Danish team in the Champions League, we have an obligation to represent the Danish colours.
“The Danish league is the best league in the world, meaning a lot of tough additional games for our very few players. We know it is going to be very difficult to proceed and we have the biggest respect for the other teams in our group,” said Kølbæk.
“We are proud to have come so far and it is an honour to have qualified to play in the Champions League this season.
“We are in a very difficult group where all the teams will face some hard and exciting matches. We are looking forward to defending the Danish colours and to get started,” said team captain.
Three questions to your coach Helle Thomsen:
What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the Women’s EHF Champions League - concerning your objectives and your group opponents?
Helle Thomsen: We are in group with two potential contenders for the semi-finals - Buducnost and FTC. Therefore it is going to be very difficult to continue to the next round.
What does the participation in the Women’s EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?
Helle Thomsen: We are proud being the only Danish team in the Champions League and that we can express the honour to have come so far.
What teams are your personal favourites to win the Women’s EHF Champions League season – and why?
Helle Thomsen: Györ – they have the best fighters. They also have the best players in the world and are strong in every position. At the same time, they have a coaching team which manages to get their individual players to work in a great team.
If there is anyone who can push Györ, I only see Krim or FTC, as they managed to beat them in pre-season.
FC Midtjylland (DEN)
Coach: Helle Thomsen
Newcomers (including former club): Stine Jørgensen (Aalborg DH)
Left the club (including new club): Maibritt Kviesgaard (Esbjerg), Natasha Ohlendorff (SK Aarhus)
Qualification for the 2013/2014 EHF Women’s Champions League season: Danish champions
EHF Women’s Champions League records:
Participations (including 2013/2014 season): 7
Quarter-final: 1998/99, 2004/05
Main Round: 2003/04, 2008/09, 2011/12
Group Matches: 2003/04
Other EC records:
Cup Winners’ Cup:
Winner 2001/02, 2010/11
Semi-finalist 2007/08, 2012/13
Danish champions: 1998, 2011, 2013
Danish Cup winners: 1991, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2012
TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor