Nora Mørk: "We are better when we have fun while playing"
Team Esbjerg and Nora Mørk dream of another EHF FINAL4 Women in Budapest. But before the dream can become a reality, it requires an overall victory against CSM Bucuresti in the upcoming two quarter-final matches.
The first match will be played in Esbjerg on Sunday, and plans have been made for a bit of a tactical blast with speed across the field.
The dream of a sixth EHF Champions League trophy in a row is alive for Norwegian Nora Mørk.
She has already won the trophy once with Larvik in 2010/11, three times with Györ in 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 and most recently twice in a row with Vipers Kristiansand in 2020/21 and 2021/22, respectively.
Now the right-back has the opportunity to win the trophy with a fourth club, namely Danish side Team Esbjerg.
The next step on the road is against Romanian club CSM Bucuresti, who will be waiting this Sunday in BLUE WATER Dokken in Esbjerg,
"I think it will be some exciting matches. We are two teams that know each other well and two teams that have done well in the EHF Champions League so far, so it is a very open duel we face. We hope to get a good starting point and a good victory on Sunday at home,” says Mørk quite confidently.
"It has been a tough programme in recent months, but we are in a good period. Among other things, we have played well against big teams in both the Danish league against Ikast and Odense and against Brest in the EHF Champions League. We have found a good and stable level, so if we take it further and play our very best, then we should be able to win on Sunday. But it has been both a good and a hard period for us lately," asserts the 32-year-old right-back, who earlier this week qualified for the semi-finals in the Danish league.
Mørk herself - in addition to her experience - has contributed 51 goals and 42 assists during the EHF Champions League 2022/23 season so far.
Full focus towards quarter-finals
For Mørk and co. it is about keeping the noses on track when the first quarter-final against CSM Bucuresti is to be played on Sunday.
The EHF Champions League semi-finalists from last year, Team Esbjerg, dream of giving themselves a good starting point before a difficult return match awaits down in Romania.
"I would rather have had the match order reversed, but now it is not like that this time. We get good support when we play in BLUE WATER Dokken.
Nothing will be finished and decided on Sunday, but we must give ourselves a good starting point. If we get a win and a good result on Sunday, then there will be even greater pressure on Bucuresti in the last match, when they have the home pitch," says Nora Mørk, thinking that CSM Bucuresti must be pressured as much as possible in the first match, where the big stars must also be kept down if it shall be a successful quarter-final for Mørk and her teammates.
"There is no doubt that Neagu is their number 1. It is no secret. She is an important player to stop, but she always scores, no matter what you do. However, they also have many other good players that we have to keep an eye on. They have players like Omoregie and Zaadi who are extremely skilled handball players. And I think that as a team they have played well this season, and are even better than last season," says Mørk in praise of her upcoming opponent.
Mørk doesn't have a 'club feeling' with CSM Bucuresti
For Nora Mørk herself, you might think that it would be a little extra special to meet CSM Bucuresti, particularly in such important matches, but no.
The Norwegian played for the club in the 2019/20 season, which was however interrupted by the covid-19 pandemic. However, she already met the club several times since her move away from there in the summer of 2020.
"Now a few years have passed and I have played with Vipers in Bucuresti, where it was special. But now that I play for a completely third club, it's not so special.
I know some of the players and it's always nice to see them again, but it's not because I have such a club feeling and a sense of belonging to the club now that it's been so long".
Great motivation to get to the EHF FINAL4 again, again, and again...
Even though Mørk has already been to the EHF FINAL4 many times, it's not exactly something she gets tired of. In fact, she wants to experience it again.
"It is a great motivation to come to the EHF Champions League FINAL4 again. I've won the last five EHF Champions League trophies at EHF FINAL4 and it's always really cool and big. So, it's a huge motivation to get there again. I think there are some difficult teams to face at the EHF Champions League FINAL4, but we are all very motivated to do what we can. Bucuresti is a good team, so we definitely have to work”.
The experience from several important matches with both the Norwegian national team and in the EHF Champions League is also something that the Norwegian is trying to pass on to her teammates, who all together are looking forward to the upcoming quarter-finals.
“I always try to do that. It will be great to play the upcoming games here and we have to do everything we can. At the same time, it is important that we focus on ourselves and think of the matches as ordinary matches, so that we do not put unnecessary pressure on ourselves. We have to have fun and bring good energy, because I think that's where we play best.
We will also be extremely good at preparing tactically, and we will use the next few days for that. The preparations are going to be good, and then it's about enjoying playing in these quarter-finals," concludes the star player, who is at the absolute top of the handball elite in the world.