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27.08.2013, 14:10
Montpellier keen to take their chance
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French side are taking nothing for granted ahead of their wild card clash with Wisla Plock
 

Montpellier keen to take their chance

For the first time in eleven years and ten years after their EHF Champions League victory, Montpellier failed to qualify directly for the Group Phase of the competition.

However, as coach Patrice Canayer points out, taking part in the wild card qualification games against Polish side Wisla Plock already feels like a victory.

"We had a complicated season last year, we've finished third in the French league, so to be here makes me happy enough already, but we know our opponent is going to be a very tough one,” admits Canayer.

The head of Montpellier's team for nineteen seasons knows that the homecoming of superstars Marcin Lijewski and Mariusz Jurkiewicsz to their opponents has made the task even more difficult, but emphasises the importance of focusing on his own players.

"We’ve signed five new players this summer and maybe these games are coming a little bit too early.

“But in the meantime, it's nice to know that there will be no time to think, it really feels like a last 16 confrontation for us. Both teams deserve a Champions League slot, but let's hope we get the ticket,” said the 52-year-old.

Inspiring signings

Montpellier's recruitment campaign began with two Gorenje Velenje players, right back Jure Dolenec and line player Matej Gaber.

They also signed two experienced goalkeepers: first Thierry Omeyer, coming back after nine seasons at THW Kiel and Arnaud Siffert, from Nantes, who played in the EHF Cup Final last year.

The final addition to this year's roster, was Argentinian international centre back Diego Simonet, from Ivry.

"The players are all very talented, but apart from the two goalkeepers, they lack a little bit of experience at the highest level of handball. Maybe these two games come a little too soon, because the two teams will still be in preparation for the new season,” said Canayer.

Mathieu Grébille, one of Montpellier's brightest players during the last campaign agrees:

"We know Plock are very physical and have more experience than we have. But on the other side, we're younger, maybe we're more innocent in a way, and if we don't suffer too many low points in the first game, we could gain an advantage before going to Poland for the secound leg,” hopes the young France international.

Montpellier's playing the home game in the Palais des Sports René Bougnol, an arena that has seen them turn a lot of confrontations their way, instead of the usual arena and Grébille is aware that this could be a massive advantage.

"It's true that Bougnol has a story. The people that come here are the die-hard fans, so the atmosphere is boiling and maybe the fans could push us a little further. But then again, we have a play a very solid game on the court, because the fans are not putting balls in the net!" concluded Grébille.


TEXT: Kevin Domas / cor
 
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