INTERVIEW: Kasper Sondergaard would love to play the Men´s EHF Cup Finals but admits that the chances are small right now.
Chances are small for Skjern, admits Sondergaard
Two points after three matches and a third place in Group B is definitely not the result Skjern Handbold were expecting at the half way mark of the group phase of the Men's EHF Cup.
Still, that is the situation for the club from the far west of Denmark, and that is a disappointment to everyone in the club, including Danish international Kasper Sondergaard.
In January the 32-year-old right back was part of the Danish team who won the silver medal at the EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark, and in general he likes to play in Skjern.
Actually, he likes it so much that at an early point this season he extended his contract with the club until the summer of 2016.
This indicates that the dream of a foreign career which has had for many years has been dropped.
“Of course, you should never say never, but considering my age, I suppose my answer to your question will have to be yes – and it is really cool to play in Skjern,” Sondergaard said.
What is not cool to him and his teammates, though, is that third place in the group and those two points we mentioned a while ago. That frustrates him.
Kasper Sondergaard: It has been disappointing, of course. We were expecting much more from ourselves. We wanted to go out and do well in Europe and represent Danish handball I a good way. Instead we have not only disappointed ourselves, but probably also a lot of handball fans all over the country.
Kasper Sondergaard: In my opinion we ruined things for ourselves as early as the first match at home against Sporting (which Skjern lost 25:32)
In (FYR) Macedonia I think we fought really well (Skjern defeated HC Zomimak-M 24:23). I realise that Zomimak have taken some severe beatings away, but there is a difference between them at home and away, so I still think that our performances in that game was okay.
Then we got a terrible start at home against Montpellier and got down 6:0. For the last 50 minutes, though, I think we did okay, but we were simply chasing that deficit throughout the match (Skjern lost 23:26).
eurohandball.com: How do you explain your poor start to the group phase?
Kasper Sondergaard: Well, it is not a question of lack of experience, that is for sure, as we are many experienced players in the team.
I rather think it has been a question of not being ready. And then, maybe we underestimated Sporting a bit in the first match. It was a team we had not really heard of, and usually Portuguese handball is not exactly in the top in Europe.
That is no excuse, though. As soon as we saw that our opponents were better than we expected, we should have been able to tighten our helmets and improve, but we did not, and that was disappointing.
Kasper Sondergaard: They are pretty small, of course. We may have to win the rest of our matches which will also include a win in Montpellier, or maybe we will have to hope for Sporting to lose in (FYR) Macedonia, so all in all, the chances are not big any more.
eurohandball.com: What do you think of this relatively new format for the EHF Cup – with a group phase and the Finals?
Kasper Sondergaard: I think it is a really great way of doing things, and I like the fact that the EHF seems to be giving this tournament such high priority. We even get matching balls and everything, so that is great.
I remember playing the EHF Cup when I played in Kolding, and back then the tournament did not have nearly as much priority, so I really like the way this tournament has stepped up.
That just makes it so much more frustrating that we have not been able to do better than we have, though.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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