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31.01.2018, 08:50
Anaitasuna hope for third time lucky
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EHF Cup countdown #8: Helvetia Anaitasuna (ESP). The Spanish side have been drawn into a tough group but they still aim to make it to the quarter-finals, and beyond
 

Anaitasuna hope for third time lucky

Spain have been a consistent factor in the Men’s EHF Cup Group Phase. For the third straight season, both Granollers and Anaitasuna are part of this stage of the competition.

Portland-based Anaitasuna were eliminated in the group phase in 2015/16 but made it to the quarter-finals - and lost to Magdeburg - in 2016/17.

This season Anaitasuna reached the group phase after four straight wins in qualification, but now they have high hurdles ahead of them: last year’s semi-finalists Füchse Berlin and Saint-Raphael as well as Swedish side Lugi Lund.

“We know that Berlin or Saint-Raphael are stronger, but we are not defeated before playing. We will try to make it to the next round although we know that it is very complicated,” coach Juan Tomás Apezetxea says. “Berlin and Saint-Raphael are Champions League teams and our fans will enjoy three great games on our court.”

The coach calls Berlin “the best team of this EHF Cup. Berlin are a selection of the world’s best players from Germany, Sweden, Denmark or Croatia.”

However, Saint-Raphael are also “another great team. Their defence is very good and they have some very physical players. In addition, Dani Sarmiento is a magical player who does special things.”

Even Lugi are not to be underestimated, Apezetxea says.

“Lugi are a very young group of players with junior international talents for Sweden. It will be very hard to beat them. They have a very strong defence and some interesting young players.”

The Anaitasuna squad has not changed much. Except for two Brazilians, one Portuguese and a Swede, it consists of Spaniards only. Off the court, two new arrivals are part of the club now: Javier Gracia is the new manager while bull Gigi is the new mascot.

And all together are looking forward to their next international missions.

“We are all proud to be in this group phase in three consecutive seasons,” Apezetxea says. “Our team is growing in this competition. We have reached this phase after beating two strong teams. I wished to play at Berlin and we are really excited that we are actually playing against them.”

For the coach, two of the main contenders for the EHF Cup Finals at Magdeburg are part of Anaitsuna’s group: “German teams are the strongest. Saint-Raphael is the other favourite, as well as teams like Chambery, Minsk or Silkeborg.”

Helvetia Anaitasuna (ESP)

Qualification for the EHF Cup Group Phase 2017/18: Round 2: 40:26, 30:23 against Plzen (CZE), Round 3: 35:27, 26:21 against Budakalasz (HUN)

Newcomers: Raul Nantes (Villa de Aranda), Cristian Martínez (Bidasoa)

Left the club: Alejandro Garza (Atlético Valladolid), Bozidar Nadoveza (Vojvodina)

Coach: Juan Tomás Apezetxea (since November 2015)

Team captain: Miguel Goñi/Carlos Chocarro

Opponents in the group matches: Berlin, Saint-Raphael, Lugi in Group B

EHF Champions League records:
-

Other European Cup records:

Cup Winners’ Cup:
-

EHF Cup:
Quarter-finalists: 2016/17
Group Phase: 2015/16

Spanish champions: -
Spanish cup winners: -


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ew
 
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