29.12.2018 15:53

Team Esbjerg return to Europe with title aim

When Team Esbjerg made their debut in the Women's EHF Champions League two years ago, the club from the far west of Denmark reached the main round.

After a one-year absence, this season Esbjerg are back in a European Cup competition in the Women's EHF Cup, where they reached the final in 2013-14.

Having signed several reinforcements ahead of this season as well as during the winter break, Team Esbjerg want to win the Danish championship and the EHF Cup this season.

Arrival of Frafjord

Team Esbjerg and their fans received a great Christmas present as the club succeeded in signing a contract with Marit Malm Frafjord for the rest of this season.

After leaving CSM Bucuresti at the end of last season, the 33-year-old former Norwegian international had ended her career, but the Esbjerg management were able to persuade the experienced line player and defender to return to handball for at least another six months.

As left back Kristine Breistøl, right wing Marit Røsberg Jacobsen, line player Vilde Mortensen Ingstad and left wing Sanna Solberg already play for Esbjerg, Frafjord completes a quintet of Norwegian internationals in Western Jutland.

Great faith in the Danish teams

Head coach Jesper Jensen, a former Danish international himself, is looking forward to Esbjerg playing in Group A – and the team will face some notable players along the way.

“We are in a very strong group, but our main goal is to move on from the group stage. To have this success we have to have a strong base when playing at home in Blue Water Dokken.

“Furthermore, we are very excited to present some top teams and top players to our home crowd.

“In Storhamar there is former Team Esbjerg player Betina Riegelhuth and the international star throughout the last decade, Heidi Løke. Cisnadie have some strong national players from Brazil. In Bietigheim there is both the former Team Esbjerg player Laura van der Heijden and the Danish national player Fie Woller.

“To participate in the strongest tournaments against some of the top teams is definitely an important thing for both the club and the team. We strive to be even better and these matches are developing us to be even stronger – both as a club and as a team," said Jensen.

Jensen, who has great faith in all four Danish representatives in the group phase, believes Esbjerg are among the favourites to win the EHF Cup.

“We hope to be one of the favourites to win the competition, but teams such as Siófok and Bietigheim are also very strong – and then I believe that all the four Danish teams have the opportunity to go all the way too,” said Jesper Jensen.

Team Esbjerg (DEN)

Qualification for the EHF Cup 2018/19 Group Phase:

Round 3: 60:53 aggregate win against Paris 92 (FRA)

Newcomers: Clara Monti Danielsson (Randers HK), Rikke Marie Granlund (Oppsal), Kristine Breistøl (Larvik HK), Emma Cecilie Nielsen (Gudme HK), Line Jørgensen (CSM Bucuresti), Marit Røsberg Jacobsen (Byasen Handball Elite), Elma Halilcevic (own youth team), Annette Jensen (TTH Holstebro), Marit Malm Frafjord (from retirement).

Left the club: Mette Hjort Knudsen (SIF Ansager), Sofie Blichert-Toft (Skanderborg Håndbold), Ine Karlsen Stangvik (E.S Besancon Feminin / Molde HK), Lara Gonzalez Ortega (E.S Besancon Feminin), Anne Brinch-Nielsen (EH Aalborg), Lærke Møller, Maibritt Kviesgaard, Rikke Zachariassen, Ida Bjørndalen Karlsson (all retired), Mette Gravholt, Ulrika Toft Hansen, Kathrine Lange Sørensen, Laura Kirchhoff Madsen

Coach: Jesper Jensen (since 2017)

Team captain: Sandra Toft

Opponents in the group phase: Sports Club Magura Cisnadie, Storhamar Handball Elite, SG BBM Bietigheim in Group A

Women's EHF Champions League records:
Main round (1): 2016/17
Qualification tournament (1): 2015/16

Women's EHF Cup records:
Runners-up (1): 2013/14
Quarter-final (2): 2010/11, 2014/15
Last 16 (1): 2011/12

Other European Cup records:

Cup Winners' Cup:
Last 16 (1): 2012/13
Round 3 (1): 2015/16

Danish league: 1 title
Danish cup: 1 title

Read about the other Group A clubs featured in the Women's EHF Cup countdown series here:

#2 SG BBM Bietigheim
#5 Storhamar Handball Elite
#15 Sports Club Magura Cisnadie

Author: Peter Bruun / jw