|06.10.2016, 17:30||◄ last page|
Women’s EHF Champions League countdown: 8 days to go – Larvik Håndballklubb (NOR) want to go all the way to the EHF FINAL 4 again
Year 1 after Mörk’s departure shall bring up new stars
Being right at the sea, Larvik is used to strong winds and high waves. Also in handball. After the club was saved from financial problems, the sport is back in the focus.
Except for the 2012/13 season, the Norwegian record champions have always made it at least to the EHF Champions League quarter-finals since nearly a decade. Once, in 2011, Larvik lifted the EHF Champions League trophy. Twice, in 2013 and 2015, they were finalists.
“As always, we want to proceed to the FINAL4,” says Tor Odvar Moen, LHK coach since 2015, adding that playing the 18th EHF Champions League season “means everything”.
Except for Polish international Alina Wojtas, all court players are Norwegian. But three countries – Brazil, Denmark and Montenegro – are represented between the goal posts. And among those court players, big names like Caroline Breivang, the Hammerseng-Edin couple or Linka Riegelhuth-Koren represent world class and the golden Norwegian generation.
However, Larvik’s outstanding star of the last years has left to Györ: Nora Mörk, top scorer of the Olympic Games in Rio. Also, Norwegian international Mari Molid left Larvik for Randers, while the new arrivals are mostly young talents. One of them, Hege Løken, is out for a month after sustaining an ACT injury in the third Norwegian league match.
Despite the Mörk loss, Moen is confident for the next season.
“We would like to make up for last year’s performance in the quarter-final. But we know that we have to take it step by step,” Moen says.
“You have to get out of the group with six to eight points to have a really good base for the quarter-finals. That will be a very tough job, but we are looking forward to it.”
In the 2015/16 season, Larvik were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Vardar in an unexpected clear way.
The first step towards the knockout stage is nearly an all-Scandinavian one as Esbjerg and Sävehof are Larvik’s opponents in the group matches. They also face Krim.
Moen is aware of their strengths: “Sävehof have adapted very well to this level. They can create an upset against many teams. Team Esbjerg is new to this environment. They have a very strong squad, but lack European experience. Krim are still a well-respected club, but they are still building a new team. At their best, they can be a thorn in the side for all teams in this group.”
For team captain Gro Hammerseng-Edin the group fits well too.
“Sävehof have a promising team with much talent. They are no push over for any opponent. They have handled themselves very well every time they compete at this level,” she says. “Team Esbjerg are new at this level but with many familiar faces. Krim look a little bit like the team we met last season. It will be interesting to see how they have developed since the last time we played them. They have some talented players in their squad.”
Hammerseng-Edin hopes for the spirit of some young guns for the new season.
“It feels a little bit like a new start for us after saying goodbye to Nora and a few others. Now it is time for some new promising stars like Kristine Breistøl and Amanda Kurtovic to shine together with the rest of the group. It feels very good this far. We would like to get a new shot at a quarter-final in April.”
Larvik Håndballklubb (NOR)
Qualification for the Women’s EHF Champions League 2016/17 season: Norwegian champions
Women’s EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2016/17 season): 18
Other EC records:
Cup Winners' Cup:
Norwegian champions: 18 times (1994, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)
TEXT: Björn Pazen / ew