Long waiting is over for Anti
After losing the semi-final of the Challenge Cup in 2002/03 with US Creteil Thierry Anti had to wait for not less than ten years for another chance to reach the final of the European club competition. But the long waiting is over now for the coach of HBC Nantes, hosting team of the EHF Cup Finals as his players will face Team Tvis Holstebro in the semi-final on Saturday at 15:45 hrs local time. Anti's team managed to avoid the quarter-finals and can rely on a support of the home crowd, but the coach is far from putting his side in the role of favourite before the start of the tournament.
eurohandball.com: How is the mood in your squad less than two days before the semi-final against Holstebro? And what about Sayad and Entrerrios, who have not been training for ten days?
Thierry Anti: We have been training and playing without them for the last two weeks... and it should be the same thing this weekend. Nothing is really sure, but it seems complicated to have them ready to play by saturday. I do not know if the people following our club really realize what this EHF Cup is. A lot of people imagine that just because we are at home, we are going to win it...I would love to! However, Holstebro is a really strong team, who eliminated Saint Raphaël and Kolding and finished in the group ahead of Maribor, who were one of my favourites! The fact that they are at this stage of the competition is not a surprise.
eurohandball.com: And you, how do you feel personnaly?
Thierry Anti: To be honest I have been thinking about this game for a long time. It is a chance to be there, be it at home or away! I have been waiting for ten years to take part again in a European semi-final. We want to milk it, play well and win. And the players do think about it the same way as I do.
eurohandball.com: Do you see a favorite for this tournament?
Thierry Anti: Who can pretend to see himself as a favorite? We could say Rhein-Neckar, because they have a very strong squad, they have qualified for the next season of the Champions League already. Göppingen has won two European Cups already, although they have had some troubles in Bundesliga this season. Together with Holstebro, we are outsiders. But the previous phases of the competition showed that the level of the teams were very close.
eurohandball.com: Can you tell us a little bit more about your opponent and how they play?
Thierry Anti: Certainly you can find in the way they play some characteristics of the Danish play, but they can give a lot of problems to defenses. They are able to change their strategy, especially on defence, they can quit their usual 6-0 defence for something more aggressive. And it is a young team, with a lot of mobility.
eurohandball.com: You will sure be able to count on the back-up of your fans, which are more and more present....
Thierry Anti: It is true that if the fans give it all like they did when we beat Paris, it will be a real strength for our team. We are going to need them, from the beginning to the end. I think today, the guys are able not to over play, or to put too much pressure on their own shoulders. Ten days without playing have made us very hungry, I can assure you we are really looking forward to beginning these finals!
Photo: Gaëlle Louise
TEXT: Kevin Domas / br