Pedersen: There is still hope, but we must improve – and have helpArticle
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FEATURE: Vipers Kristiansand goalkeeper Andrea Austmo Pedersen holds on to the glimmer of hope that remains for her team to reach the DELO WOMEN’S EHF Champions League quarter-finals

Pedersen: There is still hope, but we must improve – and have help

Vipers Kristiansand only have a theoretical chance to reach the quarter-finals of the DELO WOMEN’S EHF Champions League – and thereby to copy the achievement from last season, when they qualified for the DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 in Budapest.

After losing the Scandinavian derby against Team Esbjerg 35:30 away last Sunday, the back-to-back Norwegian champions must win their last two main round matches at home versus Rostov-Don and away against CSM Bucuresti – and other results will also have to go their way.

A stellar performance from Andrea Austmo Pedersen in goal could not prevent the defeat to Esbjerg on Sunday.

“I think it was an even first half, in which we and Esbjerg took turns leading. The second half was equal until the last 10 minutes, where we got tired and made many mistakes.

“Personally, I felt that I got a good start to the game, and that led to some important saves. Unfortunately, it was not enough,” says the 25-year-old, whose performances for Vipers earned her a nomination for the Norway team for the World Championship in Japan last December.

An educational season

Pedersen is new with Vipers this season, having joined from domestic league rivals Byåsen Håndball Elite over the summer. 

“It has been a learning season for me. In Byåsen, I was used to one match a week. Now, it is the national league as well as the Champions League.

“Although there has been a lot of strain, it has been fun. By playing so much, I learn and develop all the time,” says Pedersen. 

“I feel very good with Vipers, where I train with some of the best players in the world and play at the highest level. All the time, there is a requirement to perform your very best.”

The keeper was brought in as replacement for none other than Katrine Lunde, who is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

“Katrine is one of the best keepers in the world, and I knew it would be some big shoes to fill. Still, I have been able to focus on myself and how I can become as good as possible.

“I believe I can grow with the big role I have. I develop and take new steps all the time.”

All in against Rostov-Don

Pedersen realises that the chance to reach the quarter-finals is now small, to say the least.

“There is still hope, but we need to improve and to win our last two matches. We have been bothered by many injuries this season. We have often seen that our players are worn out towards the end of the matches, and this has meant that we have not been able to win the equal matches,” says Pedersen. 

Vipers can look ahead to another tough match when Rostov-Don visit Kristiansand’s Aquarama on Saturday evening. 

“We are going to give everything against Rostov. We realise that we will all have to be at our best and win our last two matches, plus we need help from Metz.

“Even though we are few players, we play better and better together, and get a great spirit in the team.

“I think it will be crucial to us to play our own game and to defend better than we have done in our latest matches. If we can do that, I think our chance to win is good,” concludes Pedersen.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / cg