Odense embracing a bright futureArticle
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COUNTDOWN #7: Odense (DEN). With a domestic title behind them and bright young players in the squad, the future is bright

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With their first Danish title in the bag, Odense set their sights to making a splash in Europe this season with a refreshed squad, laden with bright young talents to add to an already exciting collection of players.

Main facts

  • won the Danish league title for the first time last season, beating Viborg in the final
  • that qualified them for their third season in Europe’s top flight, returning after a loss in the play-offs last season to eventual winners Vipers Kristiansand
  • two major Dutch profiles left the club in the summer, goalkeeper Tess Wester moved to CSM Bucuresti and Nycke Groot retired
  • two rising Dutch stars have arrived, however, with the summer signings of Dione Housheer and Bo van Wetering

Most important question: Do Odense have a back court to beat the best in Europe?

Well, on paper, they look really good. Despite the retirement of superstar Nycke Groot, Odense have put together a really exciting back court line-up.

Lois Abbingh’s performances at the Tokyo Olympics suggest that she is in top form and she is not alone in the left back role, sharing time with Mie Højlund, who is due a breakout season in this competition.

The combination of Mia Rej and Helena Elver, when she is fully fit, in the playmaker role is a mouth-watering prospect, not least for Odense’s new right back Dione Housheer, who has signed from league rivals Nykøbing.

It is a back court crew which is well-worth tuning in for and can, on their day, match and beat the best the DELO EHF Champions League has to offer.

Under the spotlight: Althea Reinhardt

At just 24, Althea Reinhardt has already made a name for herself on the international scene. The Danish goalkeeper has often impressed with her performances in big games and there is absolutely no doubting here talent but she goes into this season with a new dynamic.

In recent years, Reinhardt has been a part of a formidable goalkeeping duo but as the number two, in reputation more than anything, behind Sandra Toft for Denmark and Tess Wester for Odense.

But with Wester’s departure, Althea Reinhardt will be seen as the clear number one and with that comes added responsibility.

Her new goalkeeping partner is the experienced and reliable Martina Thörn, joining from Aarhus, though if Odense are going to have a special season in Europe, the match-winning performances are likely to come from Reinhardt.

How they rate themselves

Club manager Lars Peter Hermansen is not shy about his ambitions for the club and they are rooted in competing in “the strongest club tournament in the world.”

“Odense Håndbold has big ambitions, and therefore it is very important that we are playing against the best clubs in the world and hopefully we also will be able to play a big role in the tournament the coming season.

“Our first goal is to reach the 1/8 final and from there I think that anything can happen.”

Captain Kamilla Larsen is heading into this season full of enthusiasm for competing and hopes they can “throw a huge party for our fans at our home court and at the same time experience the big adventure it is to play away because it is a special thing.”

Odense find themselves in a rock-hard group B, featuring three of last season’s semi-finalists, but Larsen is relishing the challenge.

“I am especially looking forward to playing away against Györ in an arena that gives us chills. Györ is a spectacular team that once again has added some high-quality players to the team.”

Did you know?

Club captain Kamilla Larsen has been with Odense since their foundation in 2009. The 37-year-old line player is a three-time EHF Champions League winner with Slagelse and is married to Jakob Larsen, coach of rival club Nykøbing Falster.

What the numbers say

At this time last year, all of the promise this club showed was negated by the lack of a title to back it up. That has all changed now as Odense did the domestic double last season, winning both the league and cup in what could be a turning point for the club.

With that hurdle cleared, Odense can now tackle their European campaigns with confidence and work towards Lars Peter Hermansen’s big dream of reaching the DELO EHF FINAL4 in the near future.

Arrivals and departures

Arrivals: Martina Thörn (Aarhus United), Maren Aardahl (SCM Ramnicu Valcea), Bo van Wetering (TuS Metzingen), Kelly Vollebregt (Borussia Dortmund), Dione Housheer (Nykøbing F. Håndboldklub), Trine Knudsen (HH Elite)

Departures: Tess Wester (CSM Bucuresti) Nycke Groot (Retired), Anne Cecilie La Cour (Retired), Angelica Wallén (IK Sävehof), Jéssica Quintino (HC Dunarea Braila), Katja Johansen (SønderjyskE), Sara Hald (Viborg HK) Iben Hesseldal Hansen (DHG)

Past achievements

DELO EHF Champions League
Participations (including 2021/22 season): 3
Quarter-finals (1): 2018/19
Play-offs (1): 2020/21

EHF Cup: semi-finals 2019/20, quarter-finals 2015/16
Cup Winners’ Cup: Last 16 2013/14

Danish league: 1 title (2021)
Danish cup: 1 title (2020)

TEXT: Chris