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22.09.2017, 11:10
Debutants Brest primed for Europe’s elite in Group B
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Women’s EHF Champions League countdown: Brest Bretagne Handball will have no time to ease their way into Europe’s top flight, but are eager to test themselves against the elite
 

Debutants Brest primed for Europe’s elite in Group B

After a successful maiden voyage in the previous EHF Cup season, Brest Bretagne are set for their debut in the Women’s EHF Champions League. With the centre back position brilliantly composed of Allison Pineau and Marta Mangue, the French runners-up are aiming for the main round.

Three questions before the new season

Does the team have enough international experience to compete in Group B?

Facing defending champions Györ, EHF Cup winners Rostov-Don and Women’s EHF FINAL4 2013 participants Midtjylland, Brest were drawn in an experienced and tough group for their debut season.

However, finishing second in the French league for the first time and a run to the EHF Cup Quarter-finals leaves no doubt this side is ready for Europe’s top flight. Rostov-Don ended their hopes last season, so revenge is on the cards against the Russian side when they meet in the opening round on 7 October.

“It is an honour to be part of the Champions League for the first time, which was one of our long-term goals,” says coach Laurent Bezeau, adding: “It is important for us to participate because we want to offer the best possible show, with the best teams and the best players in the world, to our fans.

“It is also essential for the success of our economic and sporting project to permanently have high-level handball in our arena.”

Can Brest make it to the main round?

The home matches and the away match at Ikast will be crucial for the French runners-up, as Rostov and Györ are formidable opponents.

Typically for French sides, the defence will be the cornerstone of success, backing up the impressive attack.

What can the fans expect of the new Swedish duo?

Goalkeeper Filippa Idehn (Esbjerg) and left wing Louise Sand (Sävehof) have experience at this level and were part of the bronze medal-winning Swedish national team at EHF EURO 2014.

Besides being a brilliant keeper, Idehn is famous for playing in shorts, while Sand is exceptionally efficient in counter attacks.

Under the spotlight: Allison Pineau/Marta Mangue

This pair are arguably the best playmaker duo in the competition. Pineau was World Handball Player of the Year 2009 and both Mangue have been named in several All-star teams at major tournaments.

Mangue and Pineau are classic playmakers but can also shoot from distance and take on defenders. Both joined Brest last season, boosting the level of the side, and much will be expected of them this season. Pineau missed the start of the preparation after an ankle injury, but was back up and running in early September.

Self-esteem

“We will try to learn from this first participation and try to make it to the main round. We will have the pleasure to face some of the best teams in Europe with Györ and Rostov,” says Bezeau.

With the experience of last season under their belts, team captain Astride N’Gouan is certain “we will have a little idea of what awaits us in Champions League. We were drawn into a very interesting group because we meet the best teams. It is a chance and a good test from which we can only improve.” 

Fun fact

While Skopje is the only city with more than one Champions League participants (Vardar’s men and women, Metalurg), Brest is represented by teams in both competitions from two countries. Meshkov Brest are Belarusian men’s champions, Brest Bretagne are the westernmost women’s club in the competition this season.

What the numbers say

Arriving from Chambray, Sophie Herbrecht is the last 2003 French world champion to be part of the 2017/18. France beat Hungary in one of the most thrilling finals of all time.

Centre back Herbrecht has a wealth of experience at club level, playing for the likes of Besancon, Issy, Nimes and Toulon.

Brest Bretagne Handball (FRA)

Qualification for the 2017/18 Women’s EHF Champions League season: French runners-up

Newcomers: Louise Sand (Sävehof) Filippa Idehn (Esberg), Pauline Coatanea (Nantes), Jovana Stoiljkovic (Nantes), Sladana Pop-Lazic (Metz), Lindsay Burlet (Metz), Sophie Herbrecht (Chambray)

Left the club: Alice Durand, Nabila Tizi, Deborah Dangueger (Issy Paris), Marine Desgrolard (Chambray), Stéphanie Akoa N’sama (end of career), Gaëlle Le Hir (end of career)

Coach:  Laurent Bezeau (since 2013)

Team captain: Astride N’Gouan

Women’s EHF Champions League records:

Participations (including 2017/18 season): 1

Other EC records:

EHF Cup
Quarter-finalists 2016/17

French league: (runners-up 2017)


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor
 
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