01.02.2018, 16:10◄ last page     

FEATURE: The Norwegian right back can help Issy Paris Hand earn an EHF Cup Quarter-final berth in Saturday's match against a team from her home country, Vipers

Oftedal wants to guide Issy to EHF Cup success

Issy Paris Hand can secure a place in the Women’s EHF Cup Quarter-finals with a match to spare on Saturday. Playing on home court, a win against Vipers Kristiansand would send the French team through to the last eight of the competition.

For Issy’s Norwegian right back Hanna Bredal Oftedal it would be special to clinch the quarter-final berth against a team from her home country.

“Our match against Vipers this weekend will really be a key match to our season. If we reach the quarter-finals, anything is possible,” Oftedal tells

“The match will be quite special for me, just as our first match against Vipers in Norway was,” she says. “After all, I have played with many of those girls at club level as well as in junior national teams. I have many good friends among them but that also makes me even more motivated to defeat them.”

Issy edged Vipers 23:22 in their group phase opener in Kristiansand on 6 January. While Dutch player Lois Abbingh led with six goals that night, Oftedal scored once.

“They are still a tough opponent, even on our home court,” Oftedal says. “They are actually a very good team with many national team players, and they play very fast.”

Improving defence

While approaching the quarter-finals in the EHF Cup, Issy are also close to the top of the French league. But with many new players, things have not always been easy.

“We have been a bit inconsistent in our games, especially in the first half of the season. But I think that our defence in particular has improved,” Oftedal says.

Issy are eying the third place in the French league, which would boost their chances in the play-offs for the championship.

However, the EHF Cup is the team’s biggest goal this season. That dream looked already over when Issy was forced into making up a 10-goal deficit (31:21) against ERD HC in the final qualification round, but they won the return game in Paris by 11 goals (31:20).

“We have been a bit in doubt about our actual level because of our rather inconsistent performances in the French league. However, after we eliminated ERD in the qualifier, we really started to believe that we could do well in Europe,” says Oftedal, adding that “our group is tough as it involves three teams which are on top of their national leagues.”

Feeling fine in Paris

Having joined Issy from Norwegian league club Stabaek IF in 2014, Ofteal is feeling fine in Paris.

Even more so since her fiancé, Sander Sagosen, also moved to the French capital city last summer to play for Paris Saint-Germain Handball.

“I live with Sander in the 16th arrondissement. We have a great apartment there and we both live fairly close to our respective training halls,” Oftedal says. “We both feel great at our clubs, and we obviously enjoy this fantastic city.”

Her older sister, Stine, also played for Issy until moving to Györi Audi ETO KC in Hungary last summer.

“Of course I miss Stine. We played together many years, three of which were here in Paris. We have developed a very close friendship besides being sisters, and I appreciate that very much,” she says, before adding with a smile: “Of course, living with Sander is a great compensation, although Stine was tidier.”

On the other hand, Oftedal is happy for her sister, who is living her dream playing for one of the best clubs in the world.

With both Stine and Sander playing on Europe’s top-level competitions, Hanna says “playing in the Champions League is also a dream for me. But at the same time, I have to be honest with myself and realise that my skills suit my current level well. I work hard all the time to become a better handball player.”

For now, it’s all about success in the EHF Cup for Hanna Bredal Oftedal.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / ew

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