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26.05.2017, 16:00
Lékai: The four best teams reached Cologne in 2017
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INTERVIEW: Having already defended their domestic titles the Veszprém playmaker is now seeking the most prestigious trophy of all.
 

Lékai: The four best teams reached Cologne in 2017

Máté Lékai has been an instrumental figure for Veszprém this season. Now the 28 year-old playmaker believes his team has a good chance of finally winning the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne, where the Hungarian powerhouses will play for the fourth consecutive time.

Even one of the sport's most faithful fanbases had their doubts about how Veszprém would finish the season. Even though Xavi Sabaté’s team had a lot of problems throughout the year Telekom Veszprém managed to defend both their domestic titles and made it to Cologne once again.

“We had our problems this year,” admitted Lékai. “Last autumn there was not one game when we could line up in our strongest formation, but we knew all along that we would only have to reach peak form in May so we kept our cool.”

Veszprém won the domestic cup and a few weeks later defended their league title as well. They lost the second leg of the final by three goals but the six-goal home win helped them secure the title for the 25th time.

“All in all this has been a good season so far despite having lost the SEHA League final. It is up to us to write history in 2017,” added Lékai.

The best game was...

It took Lékai quite a few minutes to pick his favourite Champions League game of the season.

“Even though we lost I think one of the best games was certainly our match against the to-be semi-final opponents PSG at home,” said Lékai, who scored six goals against the French powerhouse before Uwe Gensheimer secured the visitors’ win with a last second goal.

“But I shouldn’t pick a defeat so I think I will go with our huge win at Kiel,” Lékai said. “In the wake of our home defeat against Barcelona we travelled to Germany and we were really upset. Those were hard days, even some of our fans claimed we were not good enough to fight for the title this year but we reacted extremely well and got away with a win.”

Lékai found the back of the net six times in Kiel.

“That victory gave us confidence and as our injured players started to recover we finally found our rhythm. I think we are even better than last year and consider ourselves true contenders in Cologne,” added the playmaker.

May the best goalie win

Lékai believes the four best teams reached the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in 2017 - any of whom are good enough to lift the trophy.

“There will be no surprise winner this year because there is very little difference between the teams. It is practically impossible to predict who will emerge as winners,” he said.

“I reckon we have a good chance, too. Our defence is second to none, while I believe the team with the best goalkeeping performance will lift the trophy. Needless to say, we have excellent goalkeepers, so in this respect we are favourites.

“We lost twice against PSG but we are a different team now. We are obviously aware just how good they are but if our defence works well we can beat anybody. I am not a betting person, I don’t like predicting things but since you asked I admit I somehow feel that Vardar will make it to the final from the other pair,” added Lékai.

End of an era

After two Spanish coaches Veszprém decided to changed to Scandinavian style and hired Ljubomir Vranjes as head coach from the summer of 2017. Vranjes will take on the Hungarian national team, too, and it seems Lékai will be a key figure of both the Swedish coach’s squads.

“I love playing handball and I believe I can fit into multiple systems so I have high hopes for the coming years,” he said. “But I'm not spending too much time thinking about that just yet. All I can think of is the VELUX EHF FINAL4, where we will be fighting to give the best possible goodbye gift to Péter Gulyás and Gergő Iváncsik, who both retire at the end of the season.”


TEXT: Bence Martha / jh
 
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