Arntzen: "Winning the EHF EURO is a boost for motivation"
At the Women's EHF EURO 2022 in Slovenia, North Macedonia and Montenegro, Emilie Hegh Arntzen claimed her fourth EHF EURO title with Norway's national team.
Ahead of her return to action in the EHF Champions League Women for CSM Bucuresti, Arntzen discusses the importance of the EHF EURO triumph and the Romanian side's prospects against FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria in Sunday's Match of the Week.
When Emilie Hegh Arntzen signed for CSM Bucuresti in the summer of 2021, the Norwegian back was not a glamorous signing, despite having just won the trophy in the EHF FINAL4 with Vipers Kristiansand.
But it was exactly the type of signing CSM needed to improve their side, a player whose importance is very difficult to understate in the Romanian powerhouse’s mechanism at both ends of the court.
While Arntzen might not score the same number of goals as fellow back Cristina Neagu, she is usually the second or third penalty taker, assuming responsibility whenever Neagu is not on the court.
And in defence, she became the lynchpin of Adrian Vasile's unit, being a key cog of CSM’s success at the start of this season, when the Romanian side won four games and drew another – their best start in the history of the EHF Champions League Women.
"I think it was a really good start from our team. Despite having new players, the chemistry of the team did not suffer and we had some good games," explained Arntzen, who is now in her second season with the Romanian powerhouse.
However, just before the break for the EHF EURO 2022 in November, CSM lost their first match of the season, 35:29, against reigning champions Vipers Kristiansand, Arntzen’s former team.
It was a game where CSM could only withstand the pressure in the first half, and Arntzen knows all too well the difference that some of Vipers’ key players made in the second half.
"A loss does not mean anything in this moment of the competition. Of course, nobody likes losing, so we need to address the issues we had in the game, but right now we are confident we can go far in this season. The objective is to reach the EHF FINAL4," said Arntzen.
The 28-year-old left back is used to silverware from the national team, having won the 2021 IHF Women's World Championship and four EHF EURO titles, the most recent in 2022, in Slovenia, Montenegro and North Macedonia, as Norway secured their ninth gold medal in the competition.
While she did not feature prominently for Thorir Hergeirsson's side in the tournament, she still got a medal, as did right wing Malin Aune and goalkeeper Marie Davidsen, Arntzen's Norwegian teammates at CSM Bucuresti.
"Of course winning the EHF EURO is a boost for motivation. I know I did not play as much as I would have wanted, but it is huge for us, it is huge for Norway and we really want to use that motivation, that winning feeling, to deliver good performances also for CSM," added Arntzen.
There is no time for complacency, though, as CSM's players returning from the EHF EURO will feature in the Match of the Week against FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria. CSM had 11 players split across different teams, like Romania, Montenegro, Norway, Slovenia and Sweden.
On Sunday, CSM and FTC will face off for the 11th time in Europe's premier competition since they first met in April 2017. CSM have taken seven wins, as opposed to FTC's three, and five of those wins for the Romanian powerhouse came on their home court.
Currently, CSM sit in third place in the group A standings, with nine points, tied with leaders SG BBM Bietigheim and second-placed Vipers Kristiansand, holding a two-point advantage over FTC.
With the top two teams in the group progressing directly to the quarter-finals, a win on Sunday would see CSM edge even closer in the fight for one of the top two places.
"I know that FTC are a very good side, they can play very good, they can be very good in defence and they have a lot of experience. But we are playing at home, and from what I have heard, there are a lot of tickets sold, so I expect that the fans will come to the arena to cheer for us."
"It is a very important game for the group and I think we are ready, we have some things to work out after the break, because we have seen we are not really at 100 per cent in the game against Galati in the Romanian league, but everything will be fine at game time,” said Arntzen.
Some personal news came just before the game against FTC, with the Norwegian left back, who scored 54 goals last season for CSM and 18 goals this season in the top flight, agreeing to a one-year extension with the Romanian side.
"I feel very good in Bucharest. Sure, it is a bit different than in Norway, but we have a very good team, very good teammates, the atmosphere is excellent. In the end, it is just handball, so it is not so difficult to adapt," concluded Arntzen.