29.01.2019, 12:30
Quarter-final the primary objective for Holstebro

MEN'S EHF CUP GROUP PHASE COUNTDOWN #7: TTH Holstebro are no strangers to European Cup handball and this season the Danish team aim beyond the group phase of the Men’s EHF Cup

Quarter-final the primary objective for Holstebro

Playing in Europe is far from a new experience for the men at TTH Holstebro.

Although they have never made it as far as the club’s women’s team, who have three European titles on their CV, the men’s side are in Europe for the eighth time.

They have been in the VELUX EHF Champions League group phase once, while their finest achievement in the EHF Cup so far was reaching the final tournament in 2013.

Changes in crucial positions

Compared to the squad which qualified for the EHF Cup by winning the Danish Cup last season, there have been changes in central positions.

Goalkeeper Torbjørn Bergerud, who played an important role in Holstebro’s fine season, left for SG Flensburg-Handewitt and has been replaced by one of Denmark’s greatest goalkeeper talents, Sebastian Frandsen, who joined from Bjerringbro-Silkeborg.

Another key player, right back Simon Birkefeldt is also playing in the Bundesliga now, for MT Melsungen.

Holstebro still have former Danish international Peter Balling in that position, while Dutch international right back Kay Smits has joined him.

Aiming for the quarter-finals

TTH have an experienced man in the coaching seat, former Finnish international Patrick Westerholm, who won four Danish championships with KIF Kolding, and he is happy to have his team in Europe once again.

“We enjoy playing those EHF Cup matches and facing some non-Danish opposition.

“We hope to gather some experience ahead of the play-offs in the Danish league, where we aim to at least reach the semi-finals,” says Westerholm, who has the quarter-final as his first objective.

“We are happy with the draw and we look forward to the games. Hopefully, we are good enough to advance from the group phase.

“I expect Porto to be the favourites to win the group, though,” says the Holstebro coach, who is in no doubt about who he sees as favourites to win the competition.

“THW Kiel,” sounds his brief answer when asked about his personal favourite to lift the trophy in May.

TTH Holstebro

Qualification for the Men's EHF Cup Group Phase: Round 3: 53:50 aggregate win against PAUC (FRA)

Newcomers: Niels Lindholt (Lemvig-Thyborøn Håndbold), Jonathan Würtz (Nyborg GIF Håndbold), Malthe Justesen (youth team), Sebastian Frandsen (Bjerringbro-Silkeborg), Kay Smits (Wilhelmshaven)

Left the club: Anders Agger (Lemvig-Thyborøn Håndbold), Matin Hansen (Follo Håndball, NOR), Emil Sidelmann (Lemvig-Thyborøn Håndbold), Simon Birkefeldt (MT Melsungen), Torbjørn Bergerud (SG Flensburg-Handewitt)

Coach: Patrick Westerholm – since 2015

Team captain: Peter Balling

Opponents in the group phase: HC Dubrogea Sud Constanta, Liberbank Cuenca, FC Porto Sofarma in Group C

VELUX EHF Champions League records:
Group Phase (1): 2016/17

EHF Cup records:
Finals (1): 2012/13
Quarter-finals (1): 2014/15
Group phase (1): 2015/16
Qualification tournament (1): 2017/18

Other European Cup records:
Cup Winners’ Cup: Quarter-final (1): 2009/10
City Cup: Round 4 (1): 2002/03

Danish league: -

Danish cup:
2 titles: 2008, 2018

TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor

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