Coach Jensen confident about Aalborg debutArticle
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FEATURE: Jesper Jensen is not only new to Aalborg Handball, but also to coaching men’s handballl. However, the former Danish international is optimistic ahead of the new challenges

»EHF CL Channel »2014-15 Men's News

Coach Jensen confident about Aalborg debut

When Aalborg Handball begins its second VERLUX EHF Champions League campaign in succession at the end of September, it will be with a new coach.

Nikolaj Jacobsen has left for another Champions League participant, German Rhein-Neckar Löwen, and has been replaced in Aalborg by his former teammate in the Danish national team Jesper Jensen.

And in Jesper Jensen’s case the word new is to be taken literally, as the job as head coach in Aalborg is his first job as a men’s team coach.

In fact, the 36-year-old former playmaker is only in his second season as coach at all, his first year being in charge of the women´s league team Vejen EH. However, Jensen is feeling well prepared for the new task.

“Of course it is a big task for me to be in charge of one of the best teams in Denmark. I will not hesitate to admit that, but I feel well prepared and well equipped for the job.

“When it comes to the game of handball, I feel completely on home ground, whether it is about the defence or the attack.

“When it comes to management, though, I will inevitably meet some challenges in some areas, but I feel quite calm and confident about that, and hopefully I can learn the things I do not know yet in a hurry,” Jesper Jensen tells

Changes aplenty

However, Jesper Jensen is also facing other kinds of challenges at the Danish runners-up.

Key players such as Mads Mensah Larsen, Jacob Bagersted and Johan Jacobsson have left the club over the summer and although new players have joined, like the Norwegian playmaker talent Sander Sagosen, the Spanish right back Isaias Guardiola and Icelandic left back Olafur Gustafsson, it always takes time to integrate new players in the team, and on top of this, Aalborg have been quite severely hit by injury during their pre-season phase. In one test match, no less than seven players were sidelined.

“Obviously, we have a new team more or less, as four of the greatest stars have left, so we have to build a new basis so to speak, and considering how new everything is, I think we have got pretty far already.

“Just like many other teams at this point, we have been challenged by some injuries, but I think that we have a big and versatile squad which we can extend with some young players which means that we are able to maintain a relatively high intensity in training, so considering the challenges we have been facing so far, I really think that things look promising,” claims Jensen.

Return to the top

While being new as a men’s coach, Jesper Jensen is no stranger to the EHF Champions League, which he knows well as a player. He appeared in the tournament for Skjern Håndbold, for whom he played from 1999 to 2013.

“It will be really cool to be back. You always strive for the top, and I am proud to have joined a club in the Champions League.

“I will do my utmost to make us do well in this season, but certainly also to make sure that we are in the Champions League next season again,” says Jesper Jensen.

But what exactly does doing well in the VELUX EHF Champions League mean in Jesper Jensen’s world?

In the group phase, Aalborg are in Group D, where their opponents are Polish champions KC Vive Targe Kielce, French champions Dunkerque HB Grand Littoral, Swiss title holders Kadetten Schaffhausen as well as Hungarian runners-up Pick Szeged and a team from the qualification tournament.

Many people would think that maybe apart from Kielce, those are all teams a Danish top team should be able to match. So on that background, what would a good result for Aalborg be?

“A good result would be to progress from the group phase. In a lot of our matches the chances will probably be 50-50, so we will have to perform at our peak in order to go on to the knock-out rounds, but I definitely thing that we have the team to go on.

“If we can make things work our way, and maybe get a couple of away wins too, I see some great perspectives for us in that group.

“Right now, I am quite confident that we will have our injured players fit when the group phase starts. In our pre-season matches, we have been careful to rest the players who need to be rested, as we are aware that we have 29 competitive games before Christmas, among these some deciding Champions League matches coming up real soon,” concludes the ambitious coach.

Preview photo credit: Aalborg Håndbold

TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor