A day of destiny in HolstebroArticle
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Wisła Płock´s coach and Team Tvis Holstebro's goalkeeper talk to eurohandball.com ahead of their Sunday encounter.

A day of destiny in Holstebro

A thriller is to be expected in the Gråkær Arena in Holstebro, when Team Tvis Holstebro and Orlen Wisła Płock meet on the last match day of the EHF Cup group phase.

Number five in Denmark as well as number two in Poland have six points after their first five matches in Group C, while Slovenian RK Maribor Branik are on top with seven points. In other words: the loser in Holstebro Sunday afternoon will be out of the competition for sure.

For Płock´s head coach the match may be something special, as he is a Dane. Lars Walther is in charge of the Polish runners-up for the third year in succession, and he is not content with what he has seen from his lads so far in the EHF Cup, even though he can also see some explanations to his team´s lack of stability.

eurohandball.com: What is it going to be like for you to play a decisive match in your home country?

Lars Walther: Frankly it does not really make that big a difference to me, where we play. We always enter the court with a determination to win, and of course we do so Sunday again. However, I have a lot of respect for Team Tvis Holstebro who have done very well in the Danish league as well as in the EHF Cup.

It was obvious that we did not have enough respect for them in our first match against them (29:28 for Team Tvis Holstebro, ed.) They play very fast, and that caused us trouble in that match.

eurohandball.com: Can you benefit in any way from being a Dane – through a more detailed knowledge of the opponent for instance?

Lars Walther: Actually, I have been abroad for so long that my knowledge of Danish teams may not exactly be the best. I think that some of our players who have played in Denmark recently – Muhamed Toromanović who has played in Kolding and Petar Nenadić who has played in exactly Team Tvis Holstebro – have a more up to date knowledge of them.

eurohandball.com: Before the start of the group phase, many people considered your team to be favourites to win Group C. How would you characterise your team´s performance in the group so far?

Lars Walther: It has not been good enough. However, there are some explanations to that. We had nine players at the World championship, and we got several injured and tired players back home. Things have been lightening up lately, though. Now we only have one injured player, and we have improved a lot lately, I think.

eurohandball.com: You mentioned lack of respect as part of the reason for your home defeat to Team Tvis Holstebro earlier in the tournament. Will more respect be enough to win the away game?

Lars Walther: We will also need to be better at scoring on their goalkeeper Anders Petersen. He did a marvelous job against us in the first match – or maybe our shots were simply not good. We succeeded very well in stopping their fast breaks, but we had our trouble with Petersen. That will have to be better Sunday.

Obviously, goalkeeper Anders Petersen is one of the Team Tvis Holstebro players, Lars Walther has the greatest respect for, but that respect is mutual, it appears. However, Petersen, who is playing his last season with Team Tvis Holstebro before joining league colleagues SønderjyskE, is determined to end his time in Holstebro with a triumph.

eurohandball.com. You played a decisive part in your team´s 29:28 win in the first match. How do you see the chances in the second match?

Anders Petersen: It is a match which we have been looking forward to, ever since the groups were drawn, as Wisła have a very strong team, and as things have turned out, it is a win-or-die match, where the loser will be out of the tournament. In the first match we may have benefitted from their lack of knowledge about us, and they may also have underestimated us a bit which I am sure they will not do this time, so there is no doubt that we are in for a tough challenge.

eurohandball.com: What will it take from your team to repeat the win and qualify for the quarter-finals?

Anders Petersen: We will need to continue the fine defensive play which we have been practicing since Christmas, and to benefit from that through some fast breaks. It may sound simple, but basically, that is what it is all about.

eurohandball.com: What will it mean to the team and the club to get on from the group?

Anders Petersen: It will mean quite a lot. Team Tvis Holstebro is not a club with a lot of European experience – not in men´s handball at least – so it would be really great to achieve something in Europe too. It is now that the fun games start – in Europe as well as in the Danish championship play-offs – so now is the time we should peak.

eurohandball.com: Do you dream of the EHF Cup Finals in Nantes already?

Anders Petersen: One can always dream, but we realise that there is still a long way to go. Right now we focus on the Sunday match. A win there will be a must in order to go on dreaming at all.

eurohandball.com: Do you feel that there is handball fever in Holstebro ahead of the match?

Anders Petersen: Oh yes, I feel that this is a match everyone is looking very much forward to, and so do I. I would really like to end my career here with a triumph. I am also looking forward to meeting my former team-mate from my time in Kolding, Muhamed Toromanović again. I talked quite a lot with him, when we were in Poland, and he is a great guy, but I am sure we will put our friendship aside during the match Sunday.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / br