EHF Cup countdown, part 13: Skjern Handbold (DEN)
High ambitions and a tall new arrival
Skjern Handbold take part in the EHF Cup Group Phase for the first time in its current format after winning all four of their qualification games.
The Danish club maintained a perfect record through four contests with Bregenz (AUT) in Round 2 and Oroshazi (HUN) in Round 3.
Skjern boast impressive EHF Cup pedigree having reached the semi-finals in 2007, but face a tough test to reach that stage this time around.
Ole Nørgaard’s men have been drawn in a strong Group C alongside Berlin (GER), Vojvodina (SRB) and Porto (POR), and the coach anticipates a real battle to advance.
"Our team will fight with Porto for the second position below Berlin," said Nørgaard.
Skjern’s top signing prior to the start of the season was the towering Danish international Nikolaj Markussen, who stands at 2.11m tall and returned to his home country after playing for Atletico Madrid and Qatar side El-Jaish.
Another well-known face in Skjern’s squad is right back Kasper Söndergaard.
Team manager Anders Dahl-Nielsen, former coach of Champions League holders Flensburg-Handewitt, said: "(I expect) six thrilling matches in February and March.
"We know it will be difficult to reach the quarter-finals due to the strong opponents. But we also have a strong team, stronger than last year, and we believe in ourselves.”
Team captain Henrik Møllgaard is even looking beyond the first knockout stage.
He said: "Hopefully we can make it to the EHF Cup Finals, as this year we have great ambitions.”
Three questions for coach Ole Nørgaard:
eurohandball.com: What are your expectations for the EHF Cup Group Phase - regarding your objectives and your group opponents?
Ole Nørgaard: "We have to perform well against some tough opponents. The race for the top positions in this group will be a tough one."
eurohandball.com: What does participation in the EHF Group Phase mean to you and your club?
Ole Nørgaard: "It is important for both the players and the club to participate in international games."
eurohandball.com: Which teams are your personal favourites to reach the EHF Cup Finals?
Ole Nørgaard: "If I select two then it is Berlin and Granollers."
Skjern Handbold (DEN)
The road to the group stage:
Qualifying Round 2: Skjern Handbold vs Bregenz 36:22, 36:27
Qualifying Round 3: Skjern Handbold vs Oroshazi 40:20, 32:25
Newcomers: Nikolaj Markussen (El Jaish), Søren Pedersen (Mors-Thy Handbold)
Left the club: Claus Møller Jakobsen, Thomas Bruhn (both without a club), Tim Winkler (HC Midtjylland), Alexander Nielsen (Ribe-Esbjerg HH), Rasmus Boysen (TMT Tønder)
Coach: Ole Nørgaard (since 2012)
EHF European Cup competitions records:
Cup Winners’ Cup
Danish champions: 1998/99
TEXT: Björn Pazen / jh
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