01.01.2018, 09:00◄ last page     

Women’s EHF Cup countdown # 13: After elimination from the EHF Champions League, Norwegian side Larvik are ready for the EHF Cup

Larvik's youngsters prepared for new challenge

Norwegian team Larvik HK fell just two goals short of proceeding to the EHF Champions League main round. A 25:22 win against Thüringer HC in round 5 of the 2017/18 season was not enough to compensate for a 27:31 defeat on home ground. Being equal in points with the Germans, the 2011 Champions League winners were eliminated and now re-start in the EHF Cup.

Since the 2009 Cup Winners’ Cup final (which they in aggregate lost against FCK Koebenhavn), Larvik had not played in any other international competition than the Champions League. But for coach Tor Odvar Moen the new environment is not that bad.

“I think our new and young team performed rather well in the EHF Champions League, but maybe the EHF Cup is the right place for us at the moment," he admits.

In the previous years, a major transition began in the southern Norwegian city. Larvik saw the departure of almost all their international stars such as Gro Hammerseng-Edin, Marit Malm Frafjord, Armanda Kurtovic, Heidi Löke, Nora Mörk and Linn Sulland. From that golden generation, only Linn-Kristin Riegelhuth-Koren is still on board. Besides her, Nora Mörk’s sister Thea, now Larvik's captain, is one of the most experienced players.

For Moen, the time to build-up a new squad has just begun.

“We will go one step at the time and fight for a place in the quarter-finals. It is always exiting to face teams we never played against or it is a long time ago," he says. "H65 Höor look rather good, and we have an expert about the team among us, in Sweden's Cassandra Tollbring, facing her former club, which will help. At the moment, we need much more information about Banik Most and HC Zalau. Both showed strong performances in the qualification phase.”

For Moen, the group phase is important “to get to play at least six more matches which is worth a lot to our young team. We need to get all the international experience we can get. This is a perfect spot to get it.”

The experienced coach, who took over Larvik after their last Champions League final in 2015, says there is no top favourite for winning the EHF Cup trophy.

“Last season it was Rostov as they were surprisingly knocked out of the Champions League. I cannot see the team that will take their role this year. It will be extremely tight. It's not possible for me to name a club. I would probably mention half the field," he says.

Besides Viborg, Larvik are the only former Champions League winners in this season’s EHF Cup group phase - and they twice won the Cup Winners’ Cup. The EHF Cup trophy is still missing from the cabinet - could this be the Norwegian team's year?

Larvik HK (NOR)

Qualification for the 2017/18 EHF Cup group phase: Norwegian champions, fourth ranked in the Champions League group phase

Newcomers: Tamires Morena (Dijon), Cassandra Tollbring (H65 Höör), Emilie Christensen (Glassverket), Guro Rundbråten (Glassverket), Martine Wolff (Glassverket), Maria Hjertner (Byåsen), Mari Finstad Bergum (Gjøvik), Mathilde Rivas-Toft (Aker), Tonje Roth Berglie (Aker), Kamilla Røed (Flint), Marie Duvholt Kaspersen (jr. team), Samra Lupic (Flint), Therese Heidelberg (jr. team)

Left the club: Marit Malm Frafjord (CSM Bucharest), Amanda Kurtovic (CSM Bucharest), Sanna Solberg (Team Esbjerg), Sandra Toft (Team Esbjerg), Alina Wojtas (Zaglebie Lubin) Alma Hasanic Grizovic (Storhamar), Vilde Ingeborg Johansen (Tertnes), Lena Løwe (Levanger HK), Gro Hammerseng-Edin (retired), Karoline Dyhre Breivang (retired), Anja Hammerseng-Edin (retired)

Coach: Tor Odvar Moen (since 2015)

Team captain: Thea Mörk

Opponents in the group matches: Höörs, Most and Zalau in Group D

Women’s EHF Champions League records:

Winner: 2010/11

Finalist: 2012/13, 2014/15

Semi-finals: 2001/02, 2003/04, 2009/10, 2011/12

Quarter-finals: 2000/01, 2002/03, 2006/07, 2015/16, 2016/17

Group Phase/Main Round: 1994/95, 1997/98, 2005/06, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2013/14

Other EC records:

Cup Winners Cup:

Winner 2004/05, 2007/08

Finalist 2008/09

Semi-finalist 1996/97, 2005/06,

EHF Cup:

Finalist 1995/96

Norwegian league: 19 titles (1994, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

Norwegian Cup: 17 titles (1996, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

TEXT: Björn Pazen/jh

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