Skjern celebrate milestone with European handball
Skjern Håndbold are back in the group phase of a European competition for the first time in four years, after failing to progress from qualification phase 2 of the second-tier European competition in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons.
With a core that has been established over the past years and surprised in the domestic league over the past years, Skjern want to celebrate a big milestone for the club, their 30th season with strong outings in Europe.
- Skjern are one of the most decorated clubs in Denmark, winning the domestic title twice, the Danish Cup three times, while also adding European silverware, the Men’s EHF Challenge Cup twice in 2001 and 2002
- the Danish side changed their coach this summer, with Henrik Kronborg, the assistant coach for Denmark men’s national team, replacing Mathias Madsen
- Skjern qualified for the group phase of the EHF European League Men after finishing third in the Danish league last season
- their most important transfer this summer was Norwegian left back Simen Holand Pettersen, who scored 111 goals in the past four seasons of the EHF Champions League for Elverum
- Skjern’s roster is based on Scandinavian players – with Bosnian line player Senjamin Buric the only exception
Most important question: Can Skjern deliver in a milestone season?
With handball being so popular in Denmark, it can be surprising to find out that one of the most decorated teams in the history of the Scandinavian country celebrates only 30 years of existence, but Skjern Håndbold are still young. They might have only two titles in the domestic league, but have also won the EHF Challenge Cup Men twice in their history, therefore European handball is well written into the club’s DNA.
The past season was surprisingly good for Skjern, who registered third place in the Danish league, their best finish since 2018, therefore progressing to the group phase of the EHF European League Men, after being eliminated from contention in the previous season in qualification phase 2 by Montpellier HB, after a hard-fought double-header, which the French side took with a 63:60 aggregate win.
Skjern did change their coach, with Henrik Kronborg replacing Mathias Madsen this summer, therefore some patience is needed for the chemistry to be back on track for the Danish side, but this is still more or less the same team from last season, with only two players leaving and only two coming in. Maintaining the core of the side is always a good choice, especially if the results have been building up, therefore Skjern can definitely be a tough team to beat this season in the group phase, especially as the players understand the importance of having a good season.
Under the spotlight: Lasse Mikkelsen
The 34-year-old centre back spent six seasons at Skjern, between 2011 and 2017, before moving to the Bundesliga, where he played four seasons for MT Melsungen. He decided he needed another change of scenery, therefore a homecoming was a perfect choice and he duly delivered last season in the Danish league. Mikkelsen was the second top scorer of the competition, with 211 goals in 36 games and the best assists provider, setting up 178 goals.
His production might have dropped a bit at this start of the season, but he is still the second-best assist provider with 24 in five games so far in the Danish league, and ranks seventh in the top goal scorer standings, with 28 goals after five matches, exactly the same amount as Mikkel Hansen.
Mikkelsen also has plenty of European experience, having scored 85 goals in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League and 97 goals in the Men’s EHF Cup during his time at KIF Kolding, Skjern and Melsungen.
How they rate themselves:
As underdogs who have nothing to lose. At least this is what coach Henrik Kronborg, who has served as an assistant as Skjern until 2017, thinks about his team.
“We are looking forward to the draw, and the group phase, where very exciting matches are waiting. We might not be favourites – but we will enjoy every moment and for sure we are going to chase every point no matter where we are playing,” says Kronborg.
Did you know?
Only two players from the squad that competed in the EHF Champions League group phase in the 2018/19 season are still at Skjern – right wing Rene Rasmussen and right back Eivind Tangen.
What the numbers say
17/30 – The number of seasons in history Skjern have played at least one game in European competitions, either the EHF Champions League, the EHF European League Men, the Men’s EHF Cup or the Men’s EHF Challenge Cup
Newcomers and departures
Newcomers: Simen Pettersen (Elverum Handball), Sveinn Johansson (Sønderjyske)
Departures: Jesper Konradsson (USAM Nimes Gard), Anton Hagvall (Alingsås HK)
EHF Champions League
Round of 16 (2): 1999/2000, 2003/04
Group Phase (2): 2015/16, 2018/19
Third place (1): 2014/15
Semi-finals (1): 2006/07
EHF Challenge Cup
Winners (2): 2001/02, 2002/03
Danish champions (2): 1998/99, 2017/18
Danish Cup (3): 1999, 2014, 2016
Danish Super cup (1): 2017