Women’s EHF Cup countdown: Part 3: VfL Oldenburg (GER)
After a strong qualification, Oldenburg hope for the quarter-finals
They eliminated the former French champions Fleury in the EHF Cup Qualification Round 2 and then caused one major surprise by two wins against the defending Cup Winners’ Cup champions Holstebro in the upcoming round. VfL Oldenburg have proved their strength and abilities already prior to the group stage, even arriving from the first qualification round.
Since 2005, Leszek Krowicki is at the helm of the 2008 EHF Challenge Cup winners, since this summer in double function, as the Pole was appointed also coach of the Polish women’s national team, which he just had steered at the EURO in Sweden.
The 2011 EHF Cup semi-finalist are well-known for his successful youth programme and for their close connection to the Dutch Handball Federation.
Having the Dutch female youth academy at Papendal just across the border, Oldenburg became the launching pad for a huge number of EURO 2016 silver medalists such as Tess Wester, Lois Abbingh or Laura van der Heijden. From the current squad, defence specialist Kelly Dulfer was part of the Dutch side at the EURO in Sweden.
After their successful qualification, Oldenburg now hope to proceed to the quarter-finals, although Krowicki knows that “we have tough and interesting opponents”. VfL will face Champions League experienced teams Randers and Sävehof and additionally EHF Cup debutants Nantes in Group A.
For Krowicki, the French side are the favourite for finishing on top, but he also is sure that “if we can win our home matches, we will have a chance to reach the second rank in our group.” The matches against Nantes will be something special for Oldenburg’s Dutch newcomer Isabelle Jongenelen, as she had played for the club before.
In general, the coach is happy to be among the 16 best teams of the competition as one of four German teams, but Krowicki also has mixed emotions. "A group stage with six matches is very good for our young team, but also very expensive for our club,” he explained.
Oldenburg will have to replace long-term injured wing player Julia Wenzel due to an injury.
Newcomers: Veronika Mala (Slavia Prague), Stefanie Kaiser (HYPO Niederösterreich), Madita Kohorst (VfL juniors), Isabelle Jongenelen (Nantes Atlantic)
Coach: Leszek Krowicki, since 2005
TEXT: Björn Pazen / br
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