New coach as Sävehof return with main round goals
After a year of complete absence from the European stage, IK Sävehof are back in the EHF Champions League. Haven reclaimed the Swedish championship title from Höör last season, the team from the outskirts of Gothenburg are determined to make their mark under new coach Rasmus Overby.
Three questions before the season:
What can Sävehof achieve in their comeback season in the Champions League?
IK Sävehof will definitely be challenged in a group consisting of Rostov-Don, Brest Bretagne Handball and Kobenhavn Handball – and manager Hanna Fogelström realises this.
“Three very strong teams: Rostov, who participated in the FINAL4. Kobenhavn have a strong team – last year they suffered from not being so experienced in the international cup, but they will be better this year. It is a Scandinavian derby – we have two Danish players and there are two former Sävehof players in Kobenhavn: Johanna Bundsen and Jenny Alm,” says Fogelström.
“Brest have made a big journey the last four years and, entering this season, they have the strongest team so far. It will be hard to beat them in their home arena, where they have a lot of fans.”
What impact will new coach Rasmus Overby have, after inheriting his role from Sweden national coach Henrik Signell?
The 29-year-old Dane is certainly in for a challenge, being far less experienced than the coach he has replaced. Of course, he knows the club inside out after working in the Sävehof academy, but the boyfriend of playmaker Johanna Ahlm will still have to fight his lack of coaching experience on the top level.
What will the return of Johanna Ahlm mean to the team?
If experienced playmaker Johanna Ahlm, who has been side-lined for two years due to a cruciate ligament injury and maternity leave, can reach the level from before her long break, she will be a major asset to the team. In any case, her international experience should come in useful.
In Sävehof, they are well aware who and what they are up against.
“It is a tough group but challenging. We did not play international club handball last season, and we also have a new coach, so it will be interesting to see what it can bring in Champions League. However, it will be a great experience for everyone in the team and for the club, and we will not give up easily,” says manager Fogelström, who is seconded by team captain Linnea Pettersson:
“I think it's the most difficult group we could get. The Danish champions; Rostov-Don, who played FINAL4 last season; and Brest, who have signed with several really good individual players – Bella Gullden and Ana Gros for example,” she says. “However, we will do everything in our power to challenge for the points, especially in Partille Arena. We will make it difficult for them to steal points from us there.”
Under the spotlight: Christina Elm
In previous Champions League adventures, Sävehof had the goalkeeper duo from the Swedish national team, Johanna Bundsen and Filippa Idehn, at their disposal. Both those top keepers are long gone now, and significant responsibility has been put upon the shoulders of their current first-choice keeper: Christina Elm.
With her top-level experience from Kobenhavn Handball, whom she represented until 2017, as well as from the Danish junior national team, Elm might be ready to rise to the occasion.
Current manager Hanna Fogelström was born in Partille, where IK Sävehof are based, and won the Swedish championship with the team six times in her playing days as a right wing.
What the numbers say
Three times in succession – 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16 – Sävehof managed to reach the main round. Those are the only three times out of their seven Champions League campaigns that the Swedish club have made it that far. Will they succeed for the fourth time this year?
IK Sävehof (SWE)
Qualified for the Women’s EHF Champions League 2018/19 season: Swedish champions 2017/18
Newcomers: Tilda Olsson (Skövde HF), Nina Dano (Torslanda HK), Elin Karlsson (Sävehof Akademi), Ella Frykmer (Sävehof Akademi)
Left the club: Ida Oden (end of career), Julia Eriksson (Randers HK), Julia Walstern (Kungälvs HK), Amanda Thorp (Skara HF), Filippa Nyman (Skövde HF)
Coach: Rasmus Overby (since June 2018)
Team captain: Linnea Pettersson
Women’s EHF Champions League record:
Participations including the 2018/19 season: 10
Main Round (3): 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16
Group Matches (4): 2007/08, 2010/11, 2012/13, 2016/17
Qualification (2): 2006/07, 2011/12
Group Phase (1): 2016/17
Qualification (3): 2006/07, 2008/09, 2009/10
Cup Winners’ Cup:
Last 16 (1): 2011/12
Swedish league: 13 titles (1992/93, 1999/00, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2008/09-2015/16, 2017/18)