20230531 ECM Naerbo Haugseng 1
EHF European Cup

Haugseng family hopes for another EHF European Cup trophy

EHF / Ida Hummeluhr

Nærbø IL will host Serbian side Vojvodina on Saturday in the second leg of the EHF European Cup Men final with a mountain to climb. The defending champions lost the first leg 23:30 – but back Tord Haugseng is hopeful Nærbø can nevertheless retain their title in the second leg.

Even though the first match did not go as hoped for the Norwegians, there were a number of positive things to take away from the match, says Haugseng.

"It was a really cool arena to play in - with a good atmosphere and good pressure from the spectators – the way it is in these south-eastern European countries,” he says.

“There were small margins where we could have hoped to get two or three goals in the second half, but it didn't happen that way. We can take comfort in the fact that we still have one more chance and those seven goals is not much in handball. So, there is still a chance to win. We are strong at home in Stavanger with 4,000 people behind us," says the 23-year-old, who has delivered 50 goals in the European Cup throughout the season.

With an expectation of a good home crowd at Nærbø IL, anything can happen, and that is also Haugseng's expectations of the decisive match.

"All the pressure is on Vojvodina, but if we get three goals in the first half and put ourselves in the lead, then it will be a completely open game again. As they say, seven goals are nothing in handball. You can be behind by 10 or lead by two, it doesn't matter,” he adds.

“Everything happens so quickly that there is still a lot to play for. We don't feel like the game is over yet. We will go hard to defend the championship from last year."

Although they won last year, Nærbø are not feeling under pressure, claims Haugseng.

"I don't think there is extra pressure on us. Vojvodina is on paper a bigger club than Nærbø. But of course you want to repeat the triumph from last year, because we know how much fun it is to stand with the trophy at the end.

“However, I am quite happy that we now have the home ground at the end, because I think it would have been a tough challenge to be behind by seven goals from a home game going into an all-important away game. As long as we have the home game left, there is still an opportunity to take the trophy home," he says.

"That will be the icing on the cake for the season. As it looks now, there is a good distance ahead of us to work on in order to make it, but we also know what Nærbø stands for. We're going into this to win, and then we'll see what we stand for in the end. But it's just about enjoying it," adds Haugseng.

He thinks the successes of 2021/22 and the current season say a lot about what Nærbø has built up.

"You have to do something right when you have two international seasons in a row. We come from a small town with 7,000 inhabitants, and almost the entire team are local players from the area. Last year we learned quite practically something about traveling to Europe, and getting ready for this kind of matches and such,” the back explains.

If you've taken a look at the team card at Nærbø IL, you'll probably quickly see that the surname Haugseng appears several times.

“It's family. There is Andreas, who is my cousin, and then Rassin is my brother. The trainer, Rune, is Andreas' father, and thus my uncle. So, there are four of us in the club in the family who play for Nærbø," says Tord Haugseng.

“It's really cool. We have played on teams together all our lives. You know each other in a different way when you are family. So, it's great," concludes Haugseng, who will soon know whether he and his family can celebrate another gold medal at the next family dinner.

Photos © Nærbø IL

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