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24.08.2015, 17:20
Nikola and Noka carry burden of expectation
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VELUX EHF Champions League club countdown: 22 days to go - Paris Saint-Germain Handball (FRA)
 

Nikola and Noka carry burden of expectation

Having set the bar high in the transfer market this summer, Paris Siant-Germain Handball's thoughts can only be on a serious challenge for the VELUX EHF Champions League trophy this season.

Veszprem brought an end to their challenge at the quarter-final stage two years in a row, but this season nothing less than a trip to Cologne will suffice.

These high hopes are based heavily on the arrival of two names: Karabatic and Serdarusic. The “family reunion” of the two brothers (Nikola and Luka) and the highly successful coach make the Parisians one of the competition’s favourites despite their placement in a daunting Group A alongside Kiel, Veszprem, Celje, Plock, Zagreb, Besiktas and Flensburg.

After winning the VELUX EHF FINAL4 with FC Barcelona and becoming the MVP of the final tournament, expectation follows Nikola Karabatic wherever he goes, while Noka Serdarusic (2007 CL winner with Kiel and arriving from Aix) replaces Philippe Gardent, who now coaches Toulouse.

 

Bien arrivés au Hôtel Les Lodges Sainte Victoire ! LUKA KARABATIC

Posted by NIKOLA KARABATIC on Thursday, 13 August 2015

Although the message from within the club may be one of confidence this summer, manager Bruno Martini is a little more humble: “Every year we try to build a team being able to challenge the best clubs in Europe. We will begin this new campaign with big hopes, belief in our strengths and with humility and a huge respect of our opponents. Our first aim is to improve our results in the Champions League.”

“We want to do better than in the previous years,” is the straightforward goal of team captain Daniel Narcisse as well, knowing that potential banana skins await early on: “With the new format of competition, we will have hard games to play in the toughest group. We know that each game will be a fight.”

Leaving the club this summer were Croats Marko Kopljar (Barcelona) and Jakov Gojun (Berlin) as well as Mladen Bojinovics. In addition to the Karabatic brothers’ arrival, two strong back court shooters moved to the French capital: Henrik Mollgaard (Skjern Handbold) and Sergiy Onufryenko (Motor Zaporozhye).

Despite this bolstered squad Manager Bruno Martini expects “only hard games in the group phase, as the competition will be very tight until the last game.”

“All our opponents are improving a lot, like Besiktas, or have made impressive performances in the last season  like Plock, who defeated both 2015 finalists FC Barcelona and Veszprem last season or have already won the competition like Celje, Flensburg and Kiel.”

However, Martini is certain that these top opponents will raise the interest from fans and the general public alike: “It’s very important for Paris Saint-Germain to propose the best of handball to its fans. The VELUX EHF Champions League, especially with the new format of competition, offers only high level games. We think that it’s the best way to improve the interest of the public for handball.

“Playing Champions League is a way to develop our club, as the brand Paris Saint-Germain brings also notoriety and credibility to the competition, helping to win new markets for handball.”

Paris Saint-Germain Handball (FRA)
Qualification for the 2015/2016 VELUX EHF Champions League season: French champions

Newcomers:  Nikola Karabatic (FC Barcelone), Luka Karabatic (Aix en Provence), Henrik Mollgaard (Skjern Handbold), Sergiy Onufryenko (Motor Zaporozhye)

Left the club:  Philippe Gardent (coach Toulouse), Marko Kopjlar (FC Barcelona), Jakov Gojun (Füchse Berlin), Zacharia N’Diaye (Chartres), Mladen Bojinovic (no new club)

Coach: Noka Serdarusic (since 2015, successor of Philippe Gardent)

Opponents in the group phase: Kiel, Veszprem, Celje, Plock, Zagreb, Besiktas, Flensburg in Group A

VELUX EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2015/2016 season): 4
Quarter-final (2): 2013/14, 2014/15
Last 16 (1): 2005/06

Other achievements:
EHF Cup: Quarter-finalist 2006/07, Last 16 2003/04

French champions: 2012/13, 2014/15
French cup winner: 2006/2007, 2013/2014, 2014/2015


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor
 
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