Apelgren: “We are not favourites, but the chance is there”Article
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FEATURE: Elverum coach Mikael Apelgren is slightly optimistic ahead of VELUX Champions League qualifiers

»EHF CL Channel »2015-16 Men's News

Apelgren: “We are not favourites, but the chance is there”

It has been six years since Norway were last represented in the Group Phase of the Men’s EHF Champions League.

In the 2009/10 season, Fyllingen from the country’s second largest city, Bergen, made it that far, but since then the qualification tournament has been the last stop for Norwegian teams.

This year, Elverum HH are determined to end that unfortunate run.

“We are not favourites, but the chance is definitely there,” Elverum's playing coach Mikael Apelgren tells ehfcl.com ahead of the Qualification Tournament in Banja Luka, Bosnia on 5/6 September. By that time they will have a Norwegian league and cup match under their belt.

“We will obviously not have many competitive matches behind us when we play the qualification matches, but it may even turn out to be an advantage for us, as I don’t think our opponents will have had many either,” says Mikael Apelgren, who has just started his second season as player/coach by Elverum.

“There are advantages and disadvantages in being a player/coach. It demands a lot from the players who have to get adjusted to the situation, and it demands something from the coach who has two roles at the same time. However, it also carries some advantages with it. For instance, it is easier to adjust the amount of training and the intensity of the training, as you can feel yourself how much you can take,” explains the 31-year-old Swede.


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Posted by Elverum Håndball Herrer on Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Norwegians should better the Dutchmen

In the semi-final in Banja Luka on Saturday 5. September, Elverum will be up against Dutch champions OCI-LIONS.

“It is an opponent we do not know a lot about at this point, but that is going to change before we play them.

“Usually, the Dutch league is considered to be weaker than the Norwegian league, I suppose, so I think we have a fairly good chance to reach the final,” finds Mikael Apelgren.

If his team succeeds, the winner of the match between Austrian champions Alpha HC Hard and hosts RK Borac m:tel will be waiting in Sunday’s deciding match for the group phase ticket.

“I have been told that the Austrians are probably the better team. At least that is what all handball experts say, but this may be nullified by the fact that Borac are on home court,” says Apelgren who is not really sure which opponent he would prefer, should his men reach the final.

Hoping for group phase comeback

The winner of the qualification tournament in Banja Luka will be placed in Group D of the competition proper, lying in wait are Skjern Handbold from Denmark, HC Metalurg from FYR Macedonia, HC Motor Zaporozhye from Ukraine, Kadetten Schaffhausen from Switzerland and HCM Baia Mare from Romania.

“If we make it that far, I also see some possibilities for us in that group. Three years ago, when I was playing for Sävehof (Sweden) we made it to the Last 16, where we lost to AG Kobenhavn.

“Of course, I would like very much to play in the group phase again and maybe reach the Last 16 once again, and the tournament those three years ago showed me that it is not impossible. If we play at our best, the chances are absolutely there,” concludes the player/coach.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor