|10.09.2008, 11:22||◄ last page|
Eurohandball.com talks to Kenneth Jensen, who wants to guide Ikast to the Champions League.
Ikast coach looking forward to CL debut
For the first time since 2004, Danish club Ikast/Brande are in the Women’s Champions League. They prepare for this challenge with a certain amount of understandable optimism. Among other highly skilled players, their current squad includes no less than four Olympic gold medallists from the Norwegian national team: Katja Nyberg, Gro Hammerseng, Ragnhild Aamodt and the newcomer Tonje Nøstvold.
However, for head coach Kenneth Jensen the qualification group at home against Romanian Rulmetul Urban Brasov, Polish SFR SAFO Lublin and SKB Bratislava from Slovakia will be the first Champions League experience ever. Eurohandball.com talks to the Ikast coach.
Eurohandball.com: What do you think about the upcoming qualification matches?
Kenneth Jensen: We are looking very much forward to this great challenge. We realise that the task will be difficult, given the fact that only the winner of the group goes on to the group stage. Brasov are probably the strongest possible opponents among all the teams in the qualification phase. It will be an extremely tough challenge, but Polish women´s handball has also developed a lot lately and Lublin will also be difficult. Considering the fact that we have the home advantage and that we defeated several great teams in Ikast before, I think we have a real chance to win the group and qualify for the group stage.
Eurohandball.com: It will be your first appearance in the CL as a coach.
Kenneth Jensen: That’s correct. However, we have played several semi-finals and finals in the other European competition with Ikast, so I have a lot of international experience already.
Eurohandball.com: You have interesting new players in your team for this season, but you have also said goodbye to a number of players since last season. What is the team like today?
Kenneth Jensen: We had six changes in the squad, but I think that we have a generally more focused and dedicated squad. When it comes to left-handed players in particular, I think we are stronger than before.
Eurohandball.com: Speaking of left-handed players, you signed right back Tonje Nøstvold. She was not only part of the gold winning team in Beijing, but also played a brilliant Olympic tournament. She must be a good added value…
Kenneth Jensen: Yes, definitely. Nøstvold is among maybe five or six highly qualified Norwegian left-handed players. It is a great advantage that she is still young and she can develop a lot in the future.
Eurohandball.com: If you win your group, you will continue against Zvezda Zvenrigorod, Győr and Kometal. That seems to be a “dynamite group”…
Kenneth Jensen: You are right, and we have to admit that Lady Luck was not exactly smiling at us. Previously, however, we have defeated as strong teams as Zvezda and Viborg here in Ikast, so nothing is impossible. Our first goal is to qualify for the group stage and then we will have to deal with the rest.
So far, Kenneth Jensen and his team have lost their first important match of the season. Ikast were beaten 30-27 by FCK Håndbold, another squad taking part at the Champions League qualifications.
TEXT: Peter Bruun