New arena, new stage of the competitionArticle
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EHF Cup countdown, part 2: Haslum Handballklubb (NOR)

New arena, new stage of the competition

Haslum Handballklubb has managed to qualify for the group phase of the EHF Cup for the first time in the club’s history. The Norwegian champions failed in the VELUX EHF Champions League qualification against Turkish side Besiktas, but then beat Russian club Volgograd in the qualification for this competition.

Now Haslum will face tough opponents in Group A in the form of former Champions League winners HSV Hamburg, Swiss side Winterthur and experienced Champions League side Velenje from Slovenia.

Despite those high hurdles coach Tom Eirik Skarpsno was happy with the draw: “We have the chance to meet some of Europe's best teams. Of course, it will be a special experience for us to play against Hamburg in particular.”

He coaches an all-Scandinavian team, mainly with Norwegian players and two from Sweden. One of their top stars from the previous season, Thomas Kristensen, left to Ademar Leon (Spain) and the Norwegian top talent Sander Sagosen to Champions League participant Aalborg.

Manager Petter Andersen hopes for a huge audience in their new arena in Oslo, mainly when they face their German opponent: “I believe that the Norwegian spectators will see great matches. And from the sporting point of view our young team will gain great experience by playing in the EHF Cup Group Phase.”

Team captain Anders Røe thinks that “everything is possible, and why not trying to qualify for the quarterfinals?  It is going to a tough spring for us with 13 matches in six weeks, but we’re up for it.”

Three questions to coach Tom-Eirik Skarpsno: What are your expectations for the EHF Cup Group Phase - regarding your objectives and your group opponents?

Tom-Eirik Skarpsno: I think it’s a really tough group, but to face a German team means a fabulous experience for us. We are happy to play against Gorenje and Pfadi, who both have a long and successful tradition in European Cup competitions, so we have great respect for them.  We don’t think we are favourites to proceed to the quarter-finals, but we are going to try with all we have. What does participation in the EHF Group Phase mean to you and your club?

Tom-Eirik Skarpsno: It is a great opportunity for our young players to measure up with really great teams and players.  And since this is the first time we qualified for the group phase, it is awesome for Haslum HK. Which teams are your personal favourites to reach the EHF Cup Finals?

Tom-Eirik Skarpsno: I think both German teams, Hamburg and Berlin, are very strong. Maybe a Danish team can measure up with them.

Haslum Handballklubb (NOR)

The road to the group stage:

Qualifying Round 3: Haslum vs Kaustik Volgograd 28:31, 36:26

Newcomers: Simen Schønningsen (Fjellhammer), Joakim Patriksson (Follo HK), Håvard Åsheim (Follo HK), Christoffer Brännberger (Runar Sandefjord), Magnus Søndenå (Follo HK)

Left the club: Thomas Kristensen (Ademar Leon), Besard Hakaj (Søndejyske), Sander Sagosen (Aalborg), Kristijan Jurisic (Øif Arendal), Einar Riegelhuth Koren (end of career)

Coach: Tom-Eirik Skarpsno (since 2008)

EHF European Cup competitions records:

VELUX EHF Champions League:
Qualification 2011/12, 2012/13, 2014/15

Round 3 2011/12, 2012/13

EHF Cup Winners’ Cup
Last 16 2006/07
Round 3 2004/05, 2005/06

Norwegian champions: 2011, 2012, 2014
Norwegian cup winners: three times

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor