Sivertsson yearning for a new Champions League adventureArticle
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After six EHF Champions League campaigns with KIF Kolding, Swedish coach Ulf Sivertsson is hoping for a comeback to the top flight, this time with Drott Halmstad.

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Sivertsson yearning for a new Champions League adventure

Having been in the EHF Champions League six times with KIF Kolding since the turn of the century – with a semi-final appearance in the 2001/02 season as the greatest achievement – 50-year-old Ulf Sivertsson has more experience at this level than many a coach.

Now he has the chance for a comeback to the VELUX EHF Champions League with Drott Halmstad, where he has been head coach since leaving Kolding in 2009. The club secured their 11th Swedish championship in May this year and earned a place in a two-legged play-off against Luxembourg champions Handball Esch for a place in the competition proper.

“Of course, I would find it great to be back in the Champions League, this time with Drott,” said Ulf Sivertsson, who had two of his Drott players, Philip Stenmalm and Marcus Holmén, in the Swedish U21 team who became world champions over the weekend.

“Obviously, we will have to qualify first and this may be quite difficult. I have seen a few of Esch´s Challenge Cup matches from last season and they seem to be a rather strong team, whom we should absolutely not underestimate.

“I still think we are favourites, and in a way, the away game will be a new experience to me, as I have never played in Luxembourg before,” Sivertsson said when asked about the tie against the Challenge Cup finalists.

Shortly before the start of the pre-season training for the coming season, Drott lost their captain, backcourt player Michael Mattsson, who decided to end his career at the age of 29, after being bothered by injury last season.

However, the coach does not see this loss as a big handicap.

“Actually, Michael had been injured since December and even though we have not signed any new players yet, we have some young and talented players who can take over – Philip Stenmalm in particular.

“He is a 20-year-old left back who was awarded Most Valuable Player at the U21 World championship and he is a really big talent,” Ulf Sivertsson told

Hoping to meet a golf partner

Although he has a lot of respect for Handball Esch, Sivertsson cannot help thinking a bit further ahead – to the group phase, where the opponents in Group D would be Aalborg Håndbold, SG Flensburg-Handewitt, Gorenje Velenje, Naturhouse la Rioja and the winner of the wild card play-off tie between Füchse Berlin and HSV Hamburg.

“It is an interesting group, but also a very tough group. In Drott we do not have the same financial possibilities, as we had in Kolding, so it would mainly be the ambition to play the Champions League, which should attract some new players.

For obvious reasons, I was hoping to be in the same group as Kolding, but with Aalborg I get to meet my golf partner from my time in Denmark Nikolai Jacobsen who is now head coach in Aalborg. Furthermore, there are several Swedish players in the Aalborg team who will appeal to our spectators, the same goes for Flensburg and for Hamburg, if they manage to defeat Füchse.

Apart from this, reaching the group phase would be an enormous opportunity to develop our young team,” Ulf Sivertsson added.

The first leg of the qualification matches between Handball Esch and Drott Halmstad will be played in Luxembourg on 24 August, with the return match in Halmstad a week later.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor