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27.02.2019, 10:40
Last chance saloon for Melvyn Richardson and Montpellier
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FEATURE: Young right back Melvyn Richardson is enjoying the best form of his career to date, but his adventure in Europe will come to a premature end if Montpellier suffer defeat this weekend
 

Last chance saloon for Melvyn Richardson and Montpellier

Never before has the reigning VELUX EHF Champions League champions been eliminated in the group phase, but that could change this weekend.

Montpellier are on the verge of making this piece of unwanted history as they look for a win in Skopje on Saturday in order to proceed to the Last 16.

It appears a daunting task for the French side, who only won one point this season away from home so far.

“We have our backs against the wall. Maybe we could have done better before, but things are how they are, there is no point in looking back,” says young right back Melvyn Richardson.

At only 22, it feels sometimes as if he has been carrying his team on his shoulders. Over the course of the first thirteen rounds, he scored 83 goals, twice passing the ten-goal mark.

He has already beaten his personal best and sits top of the scorer’s ranking right now, ahead of legends of the game, such as Anders Eggert and Kiril Lazarov.

But to him, that does not make much of a difference. “It would happily trade those goals for qualification. I am just trying to give my best all the time and do everything in my power to help the team win,”  says Richardson.

Montpellier coach Patrice Canayer has been full of praise for his young player since the beginning of the season. Despite pointing to the fact that he still has many things to learn, he was always keen on admitting that, without his performances, Montpellier might not have a chance of progression at the moment.

“Melvyn has been very important for us, as has all of the right side of our attack,” he said before leaving to Kielce, where Montpellier came back with a win earlier this month.

Any hints of tiredness settling in after he played the World Championship with France in January cannot be seen on the court.

“Even though you would actually understand if he did slow down at some point, he does not and we will not complain about it,” adds Canayer.

Do or die in Skopje

Now Montpellier have no choice. A defeat in Skopje against Vardar would end their European campaign.

The players’ memories against this opponent are mixed, as they won last season’s semi-final in Cologne on their way to the title, but Vardar also put the champions on the wrong foot at the beginning of the season, when they came to Montpellier and won in September, thanks to a then unknown Dejan Milosavljev in goal, a player everyone is aware of now, a bit like Melvyn Richardson.

“This game will be all about the present, not what happened before. We will have to play without thinking about anything other than the win. They are a good team, especially in their arena, but we have no choice now. It is do or die,” concludes Richardson.


TEXT: Kevin Domas / cor
 
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