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28.08.2017, 17:00
New season and bigger dreams for Sporting CP
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FEATURE: Last season finished with two titles and glory for Sporting CP, but the start of the new season brings new and greater ambitions for the Portuguese national champions.
 

New season and bigger dreams for Sporting CP

After winning the Portuguese national championship and the EHF Challenge Cup last season, Sporting CP are beginning the new season with their eyes set on a bigger dream: playing in the VELUX EHF Champions League.

Hugo Canela took over leadership of the team in February, bringing a fresh approach. Sporting's defence became more aggressive and their players were more confident. These changes brought two titles and gave their coach confidence for the 2017/18 season.

"Starting a new season is always a challenge and there are some differences from last year. First of all, because we start as national champions, we are the team that everyone wants to beat. This gives us even more motivation," says Canela.

This season, Sporting will keep most of their players, bringing on board just three newcomers: Tiago Rocha (Wisla Pock), Felipe Borges (Montpellier) and Pedro Valdés (Artística de Avanca).

While the Cuban Valdés comes from a Portuguese team and takes an important step in his career by having the opportunity to play in the Champions League for the first time, Rocha and Borges have some experience on European stages and want to be an added value for the Portuguese team in the Champions League.

Consistency

The trio add to a solid and cohesive team, with players like Carlos Ruesga, Matej Asasnin, Janlo Bozovic, Pedro Portela or Ivan Nikcevic. The players believe that the few changes in the squad help their preparation for the new season. They know that they are favourites to fight for the Portuguese title but can also shine in Europe.

"It is an advantage to work with players that we already know well, in a cohesive group like ours. We only made a few adjustments with players that came to add quality," says Canela.

Sporting's coach explains that the changes in the squad change the dynamics of the group, and may arise new roles for those who are staying.

"This obviously requires a period of adaptation. Everything is done in order to make the most of each player and keeping the backbone in a fantastic group like this everything gets easier," he adds.

Sporting will compete for progression to the Champions League group stage against Cocks, Tatran Presov and Alpa HC Hard. They know they need to start this season as they finished the previous season to secure a spot in the group phase.

Players and coach are taking the competition game by game, but at the same time are confident they can make history again for the team and Portuguese handball.


TEXT: Filipa Sousa / jh
 
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