Högdahl believes in final berth after Viborg's late recovery
After going through the qualification rounds, group phase and quarter-finals undefeated, Viborg HK suffered their first defeat in the Women’s EHF Cup last Sunday as they were defeated 28:24 by Siófok KC Hungary.
However, things could have turned out much worse from the perspective of the Danish side.
Shortly before the end, Siófok were leading 26:18, but in the final minutes, Viborg managed to half the eight-goal deficit and limit their defeat to 28:24.
Viborg´s strong finish in Hungary may turn out to have a crucial impact on the overall result, or so believes the Danish team’s right back Moa Högdahl.
“Our finish improves our chances a lot before the return match on Sunday.
“In the first match, we actually started poorly in defence, but we were able to score enough goals in our attacking play to stay even.
“Towards half-time, we started to slow down and went into the break three goals down.
“We started the second half two players down on the court and fell further behind and when we were at full strength we still did not manage to turn the tables.
“However, we showed great spirit at the end to reduce the defeat to four goals. This is obviously much better than chasing an eight-goal deficit and it improves our chances a lot.
“In fact, I think our chances to reach the final are really good,” says Moa Högdahl.
Strong away team
The 23-year-old Norwegian does realise, however, that she and her teammates are up against a team who are also strong away from home.
Siófok proved this fact beyond any reasonable doubt as they won 34:22 away against another semi-finalist, Herning-Ikast Handbold in the group phase.
“I was in the hall in Ikast to watch that game and I was convinced that Siófok are also great when playing away from home.
“That is no wonder when you consider how many great players they have.
“They really are a great team, but we also have a good team and I believe in our chances,” says Högdahl, who also has a further and more personal motivation facto ahead of the return match.
That motivation factor has a name.
Tor Odvar Moen.
The renowned Norwegian coach has been in charge of Siófok from the start of this season, and being a Norwegian, Högdahl would particular enjoy a win against him.
“As you know, he was in Larvik for many years, and as I used to play for Byåsen, I remember the rivalry we had with Larvik, so winning against Tor Odvar would give me some extra satisfaction,” admits Högdahl, who joined Viborg from exactly Byåsen ahead of this season.
“It is my first season abroad, and it has been really good for me.
“Viborg HK is a great club, Viborg is a great town, and I have been received very well, so it has been a very positive experience,” she says.
No pressure from famous mother
If her last name rings a bell by many a handball fan, it is no wonder.
Her mother, Mia Hermansson-Högdahl was a key player in the Swedish national team for many years, was awarded World Handballer in 1994 and is now assistant to Norway´s national team coach Thorir Hergeirsson.
“However, I have never felt any pressure by having a famous mother.
“Of course, people may have paid extra attention to me, because they knew about my mother, but I have never felt any pressure from my family or elsewhere because of that.
“Instead, it has been an advantage to me to have a set of parents who are interested in handball and who know about the sport,” she says, referring to the fact that her father, Arne Högdahl was her coach in Byåsen.
Dreaming of the Champions League and national team
Having reached the age of 23, she has reached the point in her career, where she should transform from being a promising talent into being an established top player and she is well aware of this.
“The next steps for me will hopefully be playing the Champions League for a European top club.
“Hopefully, I can contribute to making Viborg become just that like the club has been before, and furthermore, my ambition is to play major championships for Norway.
“I have been there before as a substitute, but I want very much to be there as a regular.
“The Champions League and playing for the medals with Norway. Those are my ambitions, but first of all, it is about qualifying for the EHF Cup Final.
“That would mean so much to me and to all of us in Viborg.
“After our bad start to the season in the Danish league, that would just be perfect and although we are involved in the Danish championship play-offs at the same time, I am sure we can manage both challenges at the same time,” says Moa Högdahl.Author: Peter Bruun / cor