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EHF Champions League

Jacobsen: “Everybody recognises how strong we are”

EHF / Björn Pazen

She was born in the Swedish handball city Lund, then Sabina Jacobsen started to discover the world of her sports. At the age of 23, the left back and defence specialist moved to Denmark, first played for Randers, then several years for FC Midtjylland, winning the EHF Cup Winners’ Cup.

For two years - from 2017 until 2019 - she joined CSM Bucuresti, then the former Swedish international (32) made it to Moscow and became part of the CSKA project under Danish-born coach Jan Leslie.

Less than two years later, CSKA are part of the DELO EHF FINAL4 in Budapest, facing Vipers Kristriansand in the second semi-final on Saturday, hours after Györi Audi ETO KC and Brest Bretagne Handball have contested the first semi-final.

“When I arrived here in Moscow, the project just had started from scratch, it was different to the clubs I played before. In the first year, we had some good players, but for the second season, many more arrived here. Now we are really strong”, said Jacobsen, who will continue her career at Romanian side Dunarea Braila from next season.

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After only one year in the Russian Super League, CSKA made their debut in an international competition – in the DELO EHF Champions League.

“Right in the first match, we tied with Györ, followed by many more good games. We have a great team, but we suffered from some major injuries from key players in this season,” Jacobsen said.

The Swedish player sees the combination of experience and talent as CSKA’s main strength.

“We have many really strong players in our team, who were unknown in the rest of Europe, as they had only played in the Russian national team but not in the Champions League. But when we started with this draw at Györ, we were on the map and everybody recognised how strong we are.”

Still, from all EHF FINAL4 teams, CSKA had the closest results in the play-offs and the quarter-final, beating Krim by a single goal and CSM only on away goals, respectively.

“It has been the home strength that helped us book the ticket to Budapest”, Jacobsen said.

For the EHF EURO 2010 and 2014 silver medallist, the matches against her former club CSM were special.

“When I came to this great Sala Polivalenta Arena, I had many memories, but in the end, without fans inside, it was not the same like before,” she said.

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At their first DELO EHF FINAL4, CSKA will face Vipers Kristiansand, who eliminated CSKA’s domestic rivals Rostov-Don in the quarter-final.

For Jacobsen, CSKA have a fifty-fifty chance to make it to the final – but above all, the team is happy to be part of the event.

“We had the dream of going all the way to Budapest right in our first Champions League season. We always believed in us and we had high expectations - but in such a long season and with so many injuries we needed some luck besides the strengths you have. We are so proud now, and we aim for more of course.”

We had the dream of going all the way to Budapest right in our first Champions League season. We always believed in us and we had high expectations. We are so proud now, and we aim for more, of course.
Sabina Jacobsen
CSKA left back

As for Jacobsen, Györ are the favourites to lift the trophy in Papp László Sportaréna on Sunday, but the Swedish back also dreams of stepping on the winners’ podium.

“To win this trophy is why we all play handball. The Champions League is the biggest competition you can win in club handball. You will need two perfect days to stand on the podium on Sunday night. I will be at this event for the second time, so I know what we can expect there.”

While coach Leslie was one of the reasons why Jacobsen joined CSKA two years ago, the club replaced Leslie with his former assistant Olga Akopian a few weeks ago.

“The decision of the club to change the coach was a little surprise for me. But I had been in similar situations before at Midtjylland and Bucharest, where coaches were also replaced mid-season. We are all professionals, and knowing that sometimes those changes happen quite fast, we need to be professional.”

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