|04.04.2017, 15:40||◄ last page|
INTERVIEW: FC Midtjylland's right wing Trine Ostergaard was part of the very first Women's EHF FINAL4. Now she is dreaming of a repeat, and believes in her team's chances of eliminating HC Vardar in the quarter-final.
Ostergaard dreaming of a second FINAL4 with Midtjylland
FC Midtjylland will be chasing a second FINAL4 berth in their history, when they take on HC Vardar in the quarter-final of the Women's EHF Champions League this season. The Danish team were part of the first Women's FINAL4 back in 2014.
Although Midtjylland finished fourth and last in 2014, it was still an unforgettable experience to right wing Trine Ostergaard.
"To me personally, the Champions League is the greatest level you can play at, and the FINAL4 is the ultimate experience. To experience that once in your career is great, and being given the chance to be there again is even better. So it is obvious that I will do everything to make that happen again."
"Now it is only two matches away," the 25-year-old Danish international tells ehfCL.com.
It may come as a surprise to some that Midtjylland have even made it this far this season, considering their turbulent start of the season when they sacked their otherwise-successful head coach Helle Thomsen.
"It was very turbulent at the time and if you had asked me then, I would not have imagined that we would be in a Champions League quarter-final today. However, we were good at sticking together as a team and helped each other get over it, and that has paid off, I think.
"We have played really well during the season, and particularly in our Champions League matches at home," says Ostergaard, who has also seen the squad reduced during the season, as two national players have left Midtjylland.
Left wing Fie Woller joined German side Bietigheim, while Romanian playmaker Eliza Buceschi returned home.
"Again, we have been good at sticking together, and the fact that we have not been so many players has meant that each and every one of us has known that she had to contribute her best in every match, if we were to stand a chance.
"Actually, this has developed into being our main strength, I think."
In order to qualify for the TIPPMIX EHF FINAL4, Ostergaard and her teammates will have to overcome HC Vardar in the quarter-final, with the first leg taking place in Ikast on Sunday afternoon.
One of Vardar´s key players, Andrea Lekic, has stated that she is cautious about Midtjylland´s fast breaks. This means the pacy Ostergaard could be a key figure in any Danish success in that part of the game.
"I am aware of that, and I agree that we will need to be successful with our counter attacks and fast breaks.
"If we play too much six against six in stationary attacking play our task will be very difficult, so defending well and getting the pay-off through some easy goals on counter-attacks will be crucial – and I know that I will have to be efficient in that part of the game.
"If we succeed with that, I think we can make a small surprise. We have done well at home so far, but we cannot just rely on that. No matter the result of the match this weekend, we will need to fly to Skopje with the attitude of winning down there as well.
"If we do not believe we can win away as well, we will be run over there," she expects.
She realises that this may be her last chance to reach the FINAL4 for some time.
After being with FC Midtjylland since 2009, she is moving on to new powerhouse HC Odense after this season, along with several other national players.
"Of course, I may still get to play the Champions League next season if Odense win the Danish championship this season, but when I signed the contract with them I realised that it may take some time before I get the chance to play in the Champions League again.
"This makes me even keener to finish in style here in Midtjylland, also because I have been very fond of being here. Of course, Vardar will be an enormous hurdle, but we have overcome enormous hurdles before," says an optimistic Trine Ostergaard.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / ap