EHF FINAL4 – 2nd Semifinal Post-Game Reactions
June 3, 2023
EHF FINAL4 2nd Semifinal – FTC Rail Cargo vs. Team Esbjerg 30:29 (13:17)
by Sascha Staat
Emily Bölk (FTC Rail Cargo) scored the buzzer-beating winning goal against Esbjerg in the second EHF FINAL4 semi-final in Budapest. The shot from the 10-meter mark set the record-setting crowd of 20.022 into a frenzy and FTC into the final against Vipers, on Sunday. After the match she talked about the dying moments of the game.
Congratulations, Emmy, on making it to the final. Please take us through the last sequence of the game. What did your coach say in the timeout? What was your plan for the last attack?
EB: Actually, I still have to ask because I understood something different than Andrea Lekic did. It didn’t turn out the way our coach explained it during the time out, but in the end there was not much time left. I just thought, okay, let’s try to get a shot off to at least have a chance to get a goal. And, then it turned out well – I really didn’t see what happened, but it just turned out to be a goal. It’s just crazy to play in the final tomorrow.
It’s more than half an hour after the final whistle and you are still totally pumped…
EB: Yes, I am. I also don’t know if I should cry now? Should I laugh? Or scream? I don’t know. It’s just really incredible. It’s just unbelievable that we are able to participate here. It’s a historical achievement for the club. For most of the players, it’s the first time. And, then to qualify for the final match and be able to play in front of such a crowd is just an awesome experience. It’s so cool to be part of this team here.
The players of Esbjerg said that for them it didn’t make a difference to play in front of these fans. But, I guess for you it did make a difference?
EB: Yes. It’s a big advantage for us to have this crowd behind us and push us forward. But, I was also a bit afraid if it’s too much maybe. We want to play especially well and then it may turn out the other way, sometimes it happens like this. But, I think we found a good way. Of course, we needed some time to find our rhythm, but I think it’s normal. I mean, it’s the Final4 of the Champions League, the biggest handball event in Europe. I’m just so happy that we can enjoy this event, this semifinal, together with our fans, and that it turned out successful. It’s great.
Will you be able to calm down?
EB: We have to – yes. I think for now, everybody is just really excited. I have the feeling that these last few days were just like riding a wave of excitement. Everything is so new. It’s just a dream coming true for most of the girls. And, nobody really knew what to expect. To play in front of more than 20,000 people, being part of a world record in women’s handball – it’s a new experience. Of course, we are able to play the final, now. We need to recover and then prepare for tomorrow. It will be hard, but we are going to enjoy it.
If you can pick one tactical part of the game which has to work out perfectly tomorrow, which part is it?
EB: Running back, I think, because they are crazy fast. And, if we can beat Lunde, it can turn out well. As I said, Vipers can do it a all. It’s going to be a hard task for us.
Dragana Cvijic (FTC Rail Cargo) was on fire after the EHF FINAL4 semi-final win against Team Esbjerg. Afterwards in the mixed zone she let out all of her emotions.
Congratulations, Dragana. Please take us through the final moments of the game. How did you experience them?
DC: I wanted to tell Emily Bölk to play two against two. But there wasn’t time to say something and time was running. Then she scored – it was not luck. This is the result of her hard work all season long and all these years. She deserved to score the last goal. And, I’m really happy for her.
But, you’re also very happy right now.
DC: Of course, I’m happy as well. I’m really excited. I cannot wait for tomorrow. I can play now. If they want to come, we can play immediately. Really! This atmosphere, these people around us, this support, we never gave up. They led by five and we just came back and kept believing until the end. We have shown many times that we can play when it’s difficult and that we can come back. We know how to do this and to be smart. In the last attacks, we did it again. Today, we have show one more time that we have enormous strength. I cannot say that we are the best team on paper, but we have the biggest heart, the most emotions and energy. I think this team has it all.
Why was it so difficult for you in the first half?
DC: We just didn’t do what we needed to do. Of course, we were watching video, but we didn’t play against them this season. Somehow you need to adapt. And, then when we realized what they can and what they cannot do. At some point it started to work.
You said you can play right now. Preserving some energy will be a key for tomorrow.
DC: Yes, for sure. Energy is always the key. In handball it doesn’t matter if you are tired or not tired. Energy is always the key because you can beat much better teams if you have energy, if you really want it. We know for what we fight. We fight for Ferencvaros, we fight for a really big club and there is no such thing as not having energy. You see today how many people were supporting us. This is amazing. I was flying on the court.
Will you be able to take out the pace of the Vipers game? Today against Esbjerg it worked quite well.
DC: I’m too old and I need to calm down. I’m joking, of course. We played two games against Vipers this season, one draw and the other time we lost by one goal in the last second. They’re running very well, but so does Györ. Vipers was just able to put some tempo in the game. Tomorrow, will be new game and you need to recover. I don’t think they can be that fast again and I’m sure we can run back well. We have a chance. Many of us can play five minutes and then switch and rest. We will do everything to avoid them scoring a lot of easy goals.
Vilde Ingstad (Team Esbjerg) was heart-broken after losing the EHF Champions League semi-final match to FTC in the very last second. The Norwegian line-player could hardly find words.
How did the game end like it did?
VI: Good question. I don’t know what the answer to this one. But, they scored 17 goals in second half. It’s too much in 30 minutes. many of those goals came straight to the middle of our defense. It felt like: “what’s happening”? We didn’t concede many goals in in the entire season against any team. They play well in offense. It’s tough to win handball games when you concede 17 goals in one half.
To me it looked like your 5:1 defense worked extremely well in the first half, especially against Emily Bölk. It’s strange that it didn’t work in the second half”
VI: Yes, but I don’t know. I don’t know what went wrong. Right now, my head is just empty and I’m very disappointed. I don’t know. We need to watch it on video. I cannot give you a good answer right now.
Did you lose some sort of control – maybe you were not focused enough in the last 15 minutes of the match?
VI: I don’t know. Sorry. It’s like everything is just empty, all the air is out of the balloon. I think, everyone of us had a couple of situations and say, “fuck, why didn’t I do better”? And when everyone has a couple of those situation, it’s too much. We cannot afford it in a game like this.
Will you find the mental energy for the bronze medal game on Sunday?
VI: I hope so. But, now we have one hour to be disappointed. And then we need to start focusing on the match tomorrow. It will be hard.
As Emily Bölk scored the winning goal in the dying moments of the match, it broke the dream of Team Esbjerg. Right-back, Mette Tranborg, tried to find an explanation for why her side lost a stunning nailbiter.
I know it’s tough to talk after a loss like this one, but what’s going through your mind right now?
MT: I’m very disappointed. We had good control of the match in the first half, we had a flow and did a lot of good things. But, in the second half, we made too many mistakes and missed too many shots. They in turn came back and turned the game into a very close one. In the end, it was just too bad that we didn’t win.
In the first half it seemed like FTC fans were obviously present, but couldn’t push their team that much…
MT: Yeah, it’s the same feeling I had. We had control and we did what we agreed to before the game. I hoped by the time we entered the second half we would keep doing just that. Yet, we didn’t succeed. It’s very disappointing to be here and having lost this match.
Didn’t you stick to your game plan in the second half?
MT: Actually, yes. In defense we were not very focused and we made some mistakes. Overall, I think, we stuck to the plan, but just made too many mistakes.
How much did the crowd and the supporters of FTC, play a role in the final result? Do you think they made a difference?
MT: No, not for us. I think they made a difference for FTC’s players. Of course, it’s very good to have a whole arena cheering for you.