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EHF Champions League

Quotes from the EHF FINAL4 2023

Quotes from the EHF FINAL4 2023, including the post semi-final and final press conferences and mixed zone on Saturday and Sunday, as well as the media calls held on Friday. 

Sunday 4 June — Quotes from the EHF FINAL4 2023 finals held in MVM Dome, Budapest. 

Final: Vipers Kristiansand (NOR) vs FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) 28:24

Vipers Kristiansand (NOR)

Ole Gustav Gjekstad (NOR) — coach

On winning Vipers' third title in a row:

"I am a bit lost for words, because the feeling is amazing. This has been an amazing adventure for all of us and we won another trophy, which has been our target. I am leaving on a high, so I am very happy."

Anna Vyakhireva (RUS) — right back

On the final:

"Yesterday’s game was different. Everyone felt the pressure, but this time we decided to have fun and give it all. Everyone played so well. They just did not know who to focus on, thus nobody got special attention. We won this final as a team."

On the MVP award and Vipers third Champions League victory in a row:

"This is a dream come true. I came here to Vipers because of the champion spirit, the team spirit, and to win this trophy. I made a good choice. I am so proud of myself and the team."

Jana Knedlikova (CZE) — right wing

On the difference between the two teams in the final:

"The difference was our speed. Our goal was to be tough in defence and then run quickly and try to finish the attacks as fast and as easy as possible. In the first half we had a little bit of trouble with the flow but in the second period we gave it all and we made it."

On the three consecutive titles for Vipers:

"I have had amazing years here in Vipers. Behind every medal there are differences. It is hard to say which one is better and which one is worse. We just work for it. I can only thank my amazing teammates during those years because there is great teamwork behind the success."

On the sixth consecutive gold medal for her:

"I just choose good teams! I am kidding. When I came to Vipers, I believed in the same goals as we had before with Györ. Of course, now it is hard to meet them after those nice years there. But now I am wearing a pink jersey and I won the EHF FINAL4 with Vipers. I am very proud."


FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN)

Gábor Elek (HUN) — coach 

On the final loss against Vipers:

"They were the best team all season, playing a very fast-paced brand of handball. Congratulations to them, because they deserve it. Now, we are very sad — we lost the final — but in a few days we will celebrate this amazing season, from the record win against Most, to the comeback against Metz and this [EHF] FINAL4. It has been amazing. Now we suffer, but we will celebrate later. Also, bringing so many fans into the arena in Budapest was simply amazing. It is something that needs to be celebrated too."

Zita Szucsánszki (HUN) — centre back

On finishing her career with FTC at EHF FINAL4:

"Today the best team won. We tried our best and although we lost, I am super happy. Life goes on. New challenges are ahead of me and with this atmosphere, it was a perfect finish for this journey."

On what Fradi means to her:

"Ferencváros is my one and only club. It became my life. I will always have a part in my heart which is green and white. The time has come for new goals, however, I will never forget what handball, this club and its fans gave me."

Emily Bölk (GER) — left back

On the silver medal:

"Vipers did a really great job through the whole season, so they deserve the triumph. However, I am truly proud of my team, because we really had a tough time during this season, although we surprised everybody when we could make it to the finals and right now we honestly can celebrate our silver medals."

On Gábor Elek and Zita Szucsánszki leaving the team:

"Having seen the fans celebrated these two legends of the club was really emotional. It was a great farewell for them even though it was not a victory, but we did a great job this weekend and we really enjoyed it. I hope we can find our way back to the [EHF] FINAL4, but it was a great history we made together."

3/4 placement match: Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN) vs Team Esbjerg (DEN) 28:27

Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN)

Ambros Martin (ESP) — coach

On the 3/4 match win against Esbjerg:

"It means a lot for us because after yesterday it was really hard to bounce back. We just wanted to come here and win the title. To win the bronze medal is nice, but it was tough. We expected them to rest a bit for the domestic league, but they pushed on and on.

"I am sure that my players, our fans, are not satisfied with the bronze medal, but we can say that we finished the season and my second stint with Györ with a win. I am so, so sorry because we did not win the title, for the club and for the fans. I wish the team to win the title in the next seasons, unlike what happened in the past two seasons."

Ana Gros (Györi Audi ETO KC) – right back

On the third place match game:

"We played very well in the first half, the difference between the two teams was amazing, Sandra was awesome in the goal. In the second half we were not aggressive anymore, that is what made the game very close. The important thing was that in the end we handled the pressure well, we were not stressed out. Of course we wanted to give it all because we worked so hard for it all season.”

On the recovery after the semi-final defeat:

"To motivate yourself for another game after you lose is not easy, but this is essential in sport. You always have to find motivation to continue, because many teams and players would give everything, just to be in our place even in the bronze medal game. And I am very proud that we did not give up until the end, and we proved that we deserve the third place.”

Sandra Toft (Györi Audi ETO KC) – goalkeeper

On the EHF FINAL4 experience:

"We really focused to play in the final, but we also wanted to show, that we can not lose two matches in a row."

On the match against Team Esbjerg:

"We played pretty well in the first forty minutes, but then I can not tell that. Something happened and Team Esbjerg came back into the game. In the end, the only thing that matters, is that we won today."

Team Esbjerg (DEN)

Jesper Jensen (DEN) — coach

On the loss against Györ:

"We learnt a lot from last year’s EHF FINAL4. We got closer this season to the final. We are still very disappointed after yesterday’s loss. We paid a great tribute to this great event. We played with a big heart in the second half, even if we have a very important game scheduled for us on Thursday in the Danish league."

On Sandra Toft’s excellent game:

"She had an excellent game. Making a bit of a joke, as I also am the Denmark national team coach: She will not make the cut for the next games in the national team."

Kathrine Heindahl (Team Esjberg) - line player

On the two-faced team before and after the break:

"We had two good and two worse halves in the tournament but not inside the same game. I don’t know how and why. The learning must be that we had to be harder on put it into our games and our aims so we can control more things both in defence and attack.”

On the atmosphere:

"Yesterday’s atmosphere was incredible and Fradi fans were crazy behind the goals. And when we let them into the game then we knew that they would be extra player for them. And that is one of the things that we need to be better and protecting our lead. But in general, I think it is amazing you can put so many people into women’s handball and EHF FINAL4 with this crowd makes me proud to be part of. And it is really special to play the Final4 with two Hungarian teams rather against us than in front of an empty hall.”

Kristine Breistol (Team Esbjerg) - left back

On the bronze game:

“It is very hard to play two matches in 24 hours and we did not come over the fatigue from yesterday in the first half. After half-time, we showed what we are capable of and with better shooting, we may have surprised Györ. This comeback and the little margin and the end showed that we are a great team and I am confident we will return to Budapest in the next season."

On the plans for summer:

“I need a huge rest as this was the toughest EHF FINAL4 ever for me personally. However, we do not have too much time as Odense awaits us for the Danish title. After we are finished in the domestic cup, I will travel to Spain and then spend the rest of my summer at home, in Norway."


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Saturday 3 June — Quotes from the EHF FINAL4 2023 semi-finals held in MVM Dome, Budapest. 

Semi-final 2: FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) vs Team Esbjerg (DEN) 30:29

Angela Malestein (FTC) – right wing

On the semi-final win:

"Probably not many people expected us to be in the EHF FINAL4, but we did not come here just for fun; we really want to win. It is pretty hard to describe how I am feeling now, but I can say that I am very proud of the whole team. Today, I think we were capable of showing everyone which team really wants the gold medal in the end."

On the fans and the atmosphere:

„Our fans were unbelievable; they were fighting together with us. I can’t wait to hear them cheering for us in the final tomorrow. They will make it easier for us to fight for the gold tomorrow."

Nora Mørk (Team Esbjerg) – right back

on the meltdown of Esbjerg:

"We had a comfortable lead and we controlled the game. Then, suddenly we lost focus and we were not able to bring back the energy we had before. We slowed down in defence and we made mistakes which led to FTC goals.”

on the atmosphere:

"FTC fans had an impact on everyone on the court. But that is what they need to do. Support their team. Playing in front of a home crowd is always better so FTC had this advantage and they lived with the moment."

on the bronze game:

"When two defeated teams face each other the result will always be unpredictable. What I can say is that I expect a really tough match. Both physically and mentally.” 

Zita Szucsánszki (FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria) – centre back

On the semi-final:

"This was TEAMWORK, with capital letters and as always our fans were part of the success. Even when we trailed by five goals, we did not stop and our willpower never let us down. Only to be here gave us an extra power boost and we did not have any pressure."

On her last game with FTC on Sunday:

"To win tomorrow would be something that I cannot name yet. We do not have too much time to prepare, however, I truly believe that we have an advantage by playing freely. Although my son was not here today, nor will be on Sunday, I know that he is cheering for us and I will definitely kiss and hug him as soon as we got home."


Semi-final 1: Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN) vs Vipers Kristiansand (NOR) 35:37

Vipers Kristiansand (NOR)

Ole Gustav Gjekstad (NOR) — coach

On the semi-final against Györ:

"It is a great team and we knew that it was going to be hard. We needed to play as fast as possible, scoring 37 goals — it is something I am very happy about. We had an excellent first half. In the second there was more pressure from Györ."

On the second half:

"We felt some stress in the second half, but in these situations, if I am not calm, it would be difficult for my players too. We have been calm throughout the week and we stayed calm even if we were quite put under pressure. Now we want to relax, recharge and focus on the final, where we need to give 200 per cent."

Marketa Jeřábková (Vipers) - back

On the win against Györ in the semi-final:

"I am really proud of my team and satisfied with our performance at the game. Throughout this season we had some ups and downs, but we woke up just in time, and corrected our mistakes. This was visible on the court too. But in the end we took it, so this is the only thing that matters. "

On the final:

"I'm rooting for the better team to win, to have a really exciting and tough match. And we want to prove that we deserve to be winners. It was really incredible to play in front of this much people, and I am sure the final will be even better."

Jamina Roberts (Vipers Kristiansand) – left back

On their unstoppable attacks:

"Our handball is fast; today we were able to run and score a lot. Although we have planned to be as efficient as possible, netting 37 goals is just unexpected and amazing."

On the final tomorrow:

“As long as we play our tactics the opponent can be anyone, however with the self-confidence and the support here in Budapest that Ferencváros have, they may be very tough to beat.” 


Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN)

Ambros Martin (ESP) — coach

On the semi-final loss against Vipers:

"Vipers have been unplayable in the first half. When you concede so many goals in the first half, it is clear that something is not working at all. We did not lose the hope, we tried to get closer and we did not lose our hope. We missed some chances that in the end cost us. On the court it is difficult to handle the errors, the pressure. For me, this season was all or nothing. Unfortunately, for us it is nothing — we will not play for the final. In front of us, it was simply a better team. We need to recover and end the season in the best we can."

On the reasons for the loss:

"We played a lot with the heart, but this game was very hard. We also had the chances to come back, but if you want to win a game like this one, you need to handle the pressure. In the second half, we played much better. They were not running so much."

Stine Oftedal (Györi Audi ETO KC) – centre back

On the missing piece against Vipers:

"The most frustrating thing is that we were well-prepared for the fast-pace handball of Vipers. Then we let them score 23 in the first half. We knew the tactics, we knew our game and we were just not able to reach their level for 15 minutes and that was decisive.”

On the final minutes of the game:

"It is always hard when you have to chase the result for the whole game. Then we felt a little hope. After all, we were not as close to them as we thought and the two-goal difference is fair.”

On her expectations for the third place match:

"Now we need to cool our heads down and try to be positive because tomorrow is a new day. We cannot let our fans down so we will do everything we can to make our supporters proud.”

Amandine Leynaud (Györi Audi ETO) - goalkeeper

On the first-half defence of Györ:

"I believe Vipers established an intense rhythm and were extremely fast in the first 10 minutes, as evidenced by the 37 goals we conceded. The whole game was intense in every way, but I’m really proud of the team. We received a lot of penalties and that was a huge part. But we had a chance to get back to the game even in the last minute. It’s hard because there are two totally different styles of playing clubs. Both teams have advantages and disadvantages. We have already played them a lot this season, but I have no wish. But in any case, whoever we get, we want to win."

ER 2019

Friday 2 June — Quotes from the EHF FINAL4 2023 media call held on Friday in Budapest, ahead of the semi-finals on Saturday.

Vipers Kristiansand (NOR)

Jana Knedlikova (CZE) — right wing

About her feelings ahead of the semi-finals:

"It feels really great to be here again and participate in this event. I spent a lot of years in Hungary. It's nice to be back. It's going to be a more special game for me playing against Györ, but now it has been some years since I left Györ, and we already met a few times. Nevertheless, there is always something special about it."

On having a chance to win the Champions League for the sixth time:

"Of course I have dreams about being a six-time Champions League champion, but it also could be my third with Vipers and the team, so we can say that this is a team dream. I'm sure we'll fight for this achievement really hard."

About the preparations for the matches:

"We prepared as usual. It is another very important game. But it is still handball and it is still ‘just a game,’ so the preparation is only a little bit different. We have big dreams for which we will give it all. But I'm sure it's going to be fun as well."

Markéta Jeřábková (CZE) — left back

On her feelings before the tournament:

"I cannot wait to start the weekend, to be on the court and play. From the first moment we arrived in Budapest, I enjoyed every minute of it. And I see the same when I look at my teammates."

On being the title holders:

"I do not feel any pressure from the club. And we are also not putting any extra ‘we need to win now’ expectations on us. We just want to play our game and give our best performance."

On the semi-final:

"Györ are one of the best teams in the world and it will be a tough game and there will be a lot of fights so we need to prepare for this. Our fitness level should be on top. But I am really looking forward to this game."

Katrine Lunde (NOR) — goalkeeper

On the level of competition:

"All four teams are really strong and deserve to be here. They showed that they can reach the top. The matches will be hard, no matter who you play against. We will meet Györ first. From there it will also be really tough. We had a lot of changes this year with many new players coming to the team, and now we have different options of how to play."

On their first opponent:

"They are strong with great and experienced players. It’s very hard to analyse them as a goalkeeper, but I will try my best. I expect a lot of goals, short attacks and fast breaks back and forth. Hopefully I will be able to save some shots."

Ole Gustav Gjekstad (NOR) — coach

On the EHF FINAL4:

"It will be a difficult tournament. We know that we have two 50:50 games ahead. We will see whether the second one will be the final or a bronze-medal game."

On the semi-final:

"It will be a tough game with a high pace, as both teams want to run. The deciding factor will be who can control the tempo — that is what both of us will be fighting for. Györ have a great team with great experience, so it will be a thrilling match."

Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN)

Sandra Toft (DEN) — goalkeeper                  

On the challenge of the EHF FINAL4:

"I expect a tough game. Vipers are an incredible team. They have maybe the best attack in the Champions League and they are running a lot. We have had plenty of time for preparation and talked a lot about them. The challenge is huge, but it is the Champions League semi-final, so it has to be like that."

On what type of game she expects against Vipers:

"They have great players, so our defence has to be sharp to stop them. I expect a lot of running, fast breaks and a big battle between the goalkeepers."

Ana Gros (SLO) — right back

About the game against Vipers:

"They are such amazing attackers. They just score so many goals with ease, and our job is of course to score a lot as well. I think it's going to be a good game, and in general there will be a lot of running on both sides. We just have to give it all."

On playing in Hungary:

"I think it's amazing. It will bring more people of course. This is what we're playing for. There will be a record number of spectators — that is something that every athlete is dreaming about. I am hearing rumours that it would be the Hungarians' dream if the two home teams played the final. We are not thinking about the final yet. I mean, it would be a dream for us too, but we still have a game ahead, so let's just focus on that and celebrate later."

Ambros Martin (ESP) — coach

On the expectations before the weekend:

"We are here with the purpose to win the Champions League again. We need to do everything which is possible, even the impossible, to be the winner on the court on both days, but we are working for this and our motivation has hit the ceiling."

On the key factors to become champions:

"The most important thing is that we need to play the way we usually do. Vipers are one of the best teams in the world, and when you play against a team which plays a high standard of handball, the tactics and individuals are not necessarily enough. We need to have the will to fight for the end. We need the hunger to beat them. And I am more than satisfied with the motivation level of my team."

On the importance of the home crowd:

"I always say that the crowd can give you that plus one per cent which can be decisive in a [EHF] FINAL4. We are more than lucky that the tournament is here in Hungary. I am looking forward to seeing my team playing in front of the packed venue. The energy coming from them is a huge motivation and that energy can take us higher."

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Team Esbjerg (DEN)

Nora Mørk (NOR) — right back

On the preparations for the semi-finals:

"Now we have a full squad. We have some players coming back from pregnancy, some players coming back from injury, but the last couple of weeks have been great. Tactically we have done a good job. We are satisfied that we could get through the quarter-final, and I think we deserve to be here. It is also important that the team was here in the [EHF] FINAL4 last year as well, we can use that experience now."

On the semi-final against FTC:

"We are only focusing on the semi-final. It would be amazing for our team to get in the final, but first, we have to beat FTC, which will be extremely difficult. They have a huge advantage with the fans, but we have a good chance. It will be about how we handle the pressure and the intense moments. I think nothing would make Budapest happier than seeing FTC in the final, but we will do our best to stop them."

On the chance to reach seven Champions League title wins:

"Everyone is asking me about the seventh title, so it is kind of hard not to think about it. I have been playing in the Champions League since I was 18. I have a lot of experience. If I can do it, it would be amazing, but it’s not only me who will win. One day when I retire, it will be a great achievement."

Henny Reistad (NOR) — centre back

On the upcoming challenge against FTC:

"There are a lot of people who call FTC underdogs but I think it would be a mistake if we approach them this way. They proved this season that they are here for a reason and they beat bigger clubs like Metz. We need to perform our best to beat them. We are well prepared for this challenge."

On the prospect of the packed venue:

"It will be really hard to compete with them in front of 20,000 people, from which 19,000 will be Hungarians. We need to focus on the game and not the supporters because if we lose the focus, we will not be able to reach the highest level which is needed in a [EHF] FINAL4."

On the atmosphere in the team:

"We are calm and well prepared. We have been working for this throughout the season to be here and to be the winners of the Champions League. The next step is to overcome the difficulties against FTC. We are united and very motivated to beat the home team and then win the final."

Kaja Kamp (DEN) — line player

On the feelings in her team:

"I think we have a good energy, and everybody has taken care of their body and we also had a day for recovery too. We have a lot of people with us to manage the players but I feel there is very good energy around the team. People are happy to be here."

On the preparation for the match against FTC:

"I think the most important thing about them is that they will have the home advantage and the spectators will be with them. They play fast, so this is the most dangerous aspect we need to be careful about. We'll keep the physical condition up. We're a strong team as well and we will see what the match will bring to us."

About playing in Hungary:

"I am feeling good. I am glad to be back in this city. I am looking forward to the crowd. It was crazy last year, but now we have two teams from Hungary, so I am expecting the Hungarian atmosphere and the fans to bring something special. I love being here — I love the city and the weather is great."

Jesper Jensen (DEN) — coach

On how FTC might handle the expectations:

"We’ve been looking at FTC for a long time and I think they deserve a lot of respect. Many media outlets consider us the favourites, especially the Danish ones, but I think FTC needs to be respected more. They’ve come up just short in the past years and the Hungarian league is also very tight. It is a strong team and I believe Gábor [Elek] has done a great job there."

On the FTC fans:

"We are looking forward to that. I don’t know if you can prepare for that because it is very different from the Danish culture. They are very enthusiastic and amazing. They make a great atmosphere. I’m really happy for this opportunity, that we can play in front of them. It is going to be a great experience."

FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN)

Angela Malestein (NED) — right wing

On being the underdogs of the tournament:

"Esbjerg is an amazing team with world-class players like Nora Mørk, Henny Reistad and Vilde Mortensen Ingstad. Top, top level, no question about that. We are of course aware of this, but we did not get here only by one good game against Metz, so if we can stick together, play and fight as a team, then we can be dangerous as well. We are calm. We prepared well. We can’t do anything more."

On the attendance record in the MVM Dome:

"This is my first [EHF] FINAL4 and to be here with FTC in the MVM Dome, in front of a record number of spectators, is the perfect picture for me. I play handball for these moments. The great number of the Hungarian supporters in the crowd will be an extra bonus. I cannot wait to enter the field."

Blanka Bíró (HUN) — goalkeeper

On the preparation and expectations:

"We prepared at home during the week, then yesterday we moved into the hotel and just can’t wait to get this started on Saturday. Everybody is excited and motivated and we would like to end our season on a high note. We try to calm down a bit and help each other during the practices in order to not to get overexcited. We will face the best clubs in the world, the atmosphere is going to be amazing, and our fans will support us for sure. I hope it will give us a huge boost."

Gréta Márton (HUN) — left wing

On reaching the EHF FINAL4 for the first time:

"What we did and reached in Metz is a miracle. We overperformed ourselves and we are really proud to be here. We hope we can maintain that form and play nice handball on the weekend."

On the pressure on FTC:

"We do not have any pressure on us so we can enjoy ourselves as there are no expectations to win our first [EHF] FINAL4. Of course it does not mean that we will not do anything we can in order to reach the final and then lift that trophy. But all in all, we do not have any pressure on us."

On the semi-final against Esbjerg:

"We knew that in a [EHF] FINAL4 there are no easy games. We will face a fierce opponent that has greater experience. Fortunately, we also have experienced players in the squad so they can give us advice before these huge matches."

On the atmosphere in MVM DOME:

"I cannot tell how excited I am to play in front of 20,000 supporters. It gives me goosebumps. FTC has the best fan base in the world and we are lucky to have them. We will try to do everything to make them happy and satisfied."

Gábor Elek (HUN) – coach

On the tournament:

“I feel like it's a gift for us being here at the Final4, because during this season there were better teams than us. We were really unlucky, we had a lot of injuries and illnesses and it was definitely a rollercoaster. But life gave us something back, about what we lost during the season. I want to enjoy this time with the team, I don't want to pressure the girls about the matches. It'll  definitely be a nice thing to play in front of this many people.”

About the semi-final against Esbjerg:

"We're always playing good matches against them. The coach is really creative and well-prepared. We'll see what the match will bring to us."

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