|10.10.2016, 18:50||◄ last page|
Women's EHF Champions League countdown - 4 days to go: FC Midtjylland (DEN).
Changes throughout the club, 'group of death' on court
After six years together including 10 trophies and qualification for the first-ever Women’s EHF FINAL4 in 2014, the time had come to go separate ways as FC Midtjylland (FCM) announced the departure of coach Helle Thomsen. Thomsen was replaced by her former assistant Kristian Kristensen, now assisted by Mathias Madsen.
This upheaval took place just six weeks before the Danes commenced their tough group C schedule featuring matches against two of the last three previous winners - CSM Bucuresti and Györi Audi ETO KC - plus Russian powerhouse Rostov-Don.
The reason given for the separation was a disagreement on the future strategy of the club and therefore Thomsen had to leave the Danish league runners-up. Along with a new coach FCM also have a new club CEO (Jakob Molgaard Christensen) and a new manager (Stefan Kristensen).
That was not the end of the changes though as six players left Midtjylland and five - including Romanian Eliza Buceschi, 2015 top rookie of the Women’s EHF Champions League - arrived.
Whilst the objective in domestic competition is to fight for all the available Danish silverware, on international ground the main round of the Champions League is the target.
For FCM team captain Sabina Jacobsen the hope to proceed is still alive. “We are believers, which means that we are going for a surprise in the ‘group of death’”, said the Swede. “The two finalists from last year - Györ and Bucuresti - plus Rostov Don is a strong cocktail for us – it’s a big challenge to play against three teams who are all candidates for ending up in the FINAL4 next year.”
Manager Stefan Kristensen also shares the opinion of his player. “We are focusing on one match at a time, and hopefully it will be enough to qualify for the main round,” he explained. “Our opponents are some of the best teams in Europe – all teams that are candidates for the final tournament.”
For Jacobsen, experience will be a crucial factor for FCM. “We have earned a lot of experience in the past season and we want to show that we are strong team based on a strong defence,” she explained as her and her teammates look to improve on their record against their group opponents after drawing against Györ last season and losing twice against the Romanians.
“Being in the Women’s EHF Champions League gives our sponsors more value for their money,” added Kristensen. “It is always exciting to host these games along with some of the best clubs and players in the world.”
FC Midtjylland (DEN)
Qualification for the Women’s EHF Champions League Season 2016/17: Danish runners-up
Newcomers: Linn Blohm (Team Tvis Holstebro), Rut Jonsdottir (Randers HK), Martina Thorn (Glassverket IF), Elin Línden (VasterasIrsta HF), Eliza Buceschi (Thüringer HC)
Left the club: Susan Thorsgaard (Odense Handbold), Jane Mejlvang (Ringkobing Handbold), Stephanie Andersen (Silkeborg-Voel), Annika Jakobsens (Skanderborg Handbold), Emilie Bastrup (Team Tvis Holstebro), Line Skak (Team Tvis Holstebro)
Coach: Kristian Kristensen (since September 2016, successor of Helle Thomsen)
Team captain: Sabina Jacobsen
Opponents in the group matches – Group C: Györi Audi ETO KC, CSM Bucuresti and Rostov-Don
Women’s EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2016/17 season): 10
Semi-final: 2002/03, 2013/14
Quarter-final: 1998/99, 2004/05
Main Round: 2003/04, 2008/09, 2011/12, 2015/16
Group Matches: 2003/04
Other European competition records:
Cup Winners’ Cup - Winner 2003/04, 2014/15, Semi-finalist 1999/2000
EHF Cup - Winner 2001/02, 2010/11, Runners-up 2006/07, Semi-finalist 2007/08, 2012/13
City Cup - Winner 1997/98, Finalist 1996/97, Semi-finalist 1994/95
Danish champions: 4 times (1998, 2011, 2013, 2015)
Danish Cup winners: 7 times (1991, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2012, 2014, 2015)
Photo: FCM Official Website
TEXT: Bjorn Pazen/amc