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20.08.2015, 18:54
Making it better than last year
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VELUX EHF Championms League club countdown: 27 days to go - Montpellier Handball, the 2003 winners
 

Making it better than last year

To win a domestic title in France at the expense of the favourites from Paris and to proceed from the group phase in the VELUX EHF Champions League - those are the major goals of Montpellier Handball for the upcoming season.

The 2003 winners start their 18th season in the European top competition - and for the 18th time, Patrice Canayer is their record-breaking coach, who is at the helm since 1994.

Things have changed at Montpellier in the previous years, but still Canayer can count on some stalwarts like team captain Michael Guigou or right back Vid Kavticnik.

However some of those “all-time Montpellier stars” have said adieu at the middle of August as Tunisian line player Issam Tej (pictured below) signed for Qatari side El-Jaish and was released by his club despite a valid contract.

Like a huge number of Champions League participants, Montpellier had a change between the goal posts, as Croat Venjo Losert left the club and was replaced by French international Vincent Gerard from former champion Dunkerque.

In addition to Gerard, Aymen Toumi (previously in Nantes) joined the Canayer squad, which were eliminated by Polish champions Kielce highly closely in the Last 16 of last season.

“We want to go as far as possible in the Champions League,” says Canayer, for whom the Last 16 is the minimum goal.

Team captain Guigou shares those hopes. “We try to get further than last season, to qualify for the quarter-finals would be very good.”

He expects a tough group phase already, in which Montpellier face defending champions Barcelona, Kielce, Löwen, Kolding, Vardar and Kristianstad.

Therefore, Guigou hopes to play better in our home matches compared to the last season, as otherwise we do not get far due to the new format.

"It will be a tough and long competition for our young team. Below the two main contenders Barcelona and Kielce the rest of our group is balanced, though we did not win a single point against Vardar and Löwen in last season’s group phase. So it is necessary to do it more successful now. Against Kristianstad we need to win twice to proceed,” Guigou said.

His coach Canayer agrees, saying: “The group phase will be difficult, but we wanted to have it this way. But for us the Champions League is a major important competition full of attractiveness and the room to be filled.” His personal favourites for the top positons are Barcelona and Kielce.  

Montpellier Handball (FRA)
Qualification for the 2015/16 VELUX EHF Champions League season: runners-ups in France
Newcomers: Vincent Gerard (Dunkerque), Aymen Toumi (Nantes)
Left the club: Venjo Losert (destination unknown), Balazs Laluska (destination unknown), Antoine Gutfreund (Dijon), Kevin Mesnard (Istres), Issam Tej (El-Jaish/QAT)
Coach: Patrice Canayer (since 1994)

Opponents in the group stage: Barcelona, Kielce, Vardar, Kolding, Szeged, Löwen, Kristianstad in Group B

VELUX EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2015/16 season): 18
Winner (1): 2002/03
Semi-final (1): 2004/05
Quarter-final (4): 2000/01, 2005/06, 2009/10, 2010/11
Last 16 (4): 1995/96, 2003/04, 2006/07, 2011/12, 2014/15
Main Round (2): 2007/2008, 2008/09
Group Phase (3): 1998/99, 1999/00, 2012/13
Qualification (1): 2013/14

Other achievements:
EHF Cup: Runners-up 2013/14, Quarter-finalists 1996/97, Last 16 1993/94, 1994/95
Cup Winners’ Cup: Quarter-finalists 2001/02

French league: 14 titles (1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)
French cup: 12 titles (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013)
French League Cup: 9 titles (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014)
 


TEXT: Björn Pazen / br
 
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