Qualified relief in ViborgArticle
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Despite injury problems Viborg HK made it through to the Women´s EHF Champions League Group Matches

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Qualified relief in Viborg

Despite injury problems Viborg HK made it through to the Women´s EHF Champions League Group Matches, but only after a tough and close final against Vista  Łączpol  Gdynia in Qualification Group Three.

In the semi-final - against Swiss champions LC Brühl did not present the Viborg players with too much worry, and they eased into the final thanks to a 30-14 win in a match which saw head coach Martin Albertsen rest some of his key players in the last 40 minutes.

After that easy win, Albertsen and his players watched Spanish Bera Bera and Gdynia decide which team was going to be Viborg´s opponents in Sunday´s final battle for the single place in the Group Matches. Some had seen Bera Bera as favourites, but the Polish champions proved their class and cruised into the final with a convincing 31-22 win which came as a surprise to Albertsen. "Bera Bera is probably the best team in Spain right now, and they easily won the Super Cup down there. However, they ran into a physically strong Gdynia team with a very strong defence and a surprisingly good fast-break phase," he said.

Gdynia's win worried the Viborg coach ahead of the group final on Sunday. Before the qualification tournament he had appealed for local support, and 1100 spectators came to the Viborg Stadionhal to do their bit in carrying their team through to the promised land of the elite club competition.

Early in the match Viborg went 8-4 ahead, but their lack of a left-handed right back (after Grit Jurack´s retirement and Amanda Kurtovic´s injury) was obvious for large parts of the game, and when Rikke Skov needed a break on the bench, her skill and experience were lacking in defence as well as in attack.

This let Gdynia back into the game, and after a narrow 12-11 lead for Viborg at half time the two sides were closely matched through the second half.

However, the will power which Albertsen had asked for ahead of this qualification weekend took Viborg through at the end – and so did Cleopatre Darleux. The French international in the Viborg goal was in superb form and played a big part in Viborg being able to take a decisive five-goal lead in the last five minutes and book their Champions League ticket with a 26-22 win.

Naturally, Albertsen was a relieved man as they confirmed their qualification for the Group Matches. "It has been a big goal for us to qualify for the EHF Champions League, so of course we are happy to have achieved it," he told ehfCL.com.

"I don't agree that we were vulnerable when Rikke Skov was on the bench, though. I think that our defence worked very well all the time, and in attack we managed to create good pressure with Johanna Ahlm, Isabelle Gullden and Pernille Holst Larsen. Of course we are missing a left-handed right back, but I think Pernille Larsen played that position very well in spite of being right-handed – and I think we improve with every game we play!"

Now he and his players can look forward to playing in Group D, where their opponents will be last season's Women´s EHF Champions League winners Budućnost from Montenegro, Russian outfit Zvezda Zvenigorod and Thüringer HC from Germany.

"That will be a group where all teams can beat all and lose against all! We are really looking forward to playing against all three teams and to present them to our spectators in our hall!" added Albertsen.

Meanwhile, Viborg announced this week that they have loaned out their young goalkeeper Søs Søby to Danish League colleagues Aalborg DH, from whom she signed for Viborg before this season.

The young keeper has been bothered by knee problems for a long time but now she is fit again, and as Viborg also have Cleopatre Darleux as well as Swedish international Cecilia Grubström to guard their goal, the club management has agreed with Søby that it would be best for her career at the moment to be loaned out to her former club.

"It is a really good situation for Søs and for us that she gets some match practice at league level. At first it will be for the rest of the autumn season, and after that we will have to evaluate how far she has come, and what will be best at that time," Viborg HK´s sports director Susanne Munk Wilbek said in an official statement from the club.

Find more information on Group Matches of Women´s EHF Champions League here

Photo: Henrik Wolff

TEXT: Peter Bruun