FEATURE: Two stalwarts of the French team do not hide appetite for the EHF Cup trophy, but they both also warn not to underestimate other group phase opponents as this season is extremely open.
Montpellier show both ambitions and respect ahead of draw
The French side Montpellier Agglomeration HB belong to heaviest favourites for the winners' trophy in the second edition of the reformed EHF Cup. Having qualified on Sunday through Russia's Kaustik, the 2003 EHF Champions League winners are now eager to learn who their opponents for the EHF Cup Group Phase will be.
Arnaud Siffert, who is taking part in his seventh EHF Cup campaign, knows well that there is no easy opponent in this competition. "When you look at the line-up this year, there are at least ten teams that really have a chance to go all the way to Berlin," the goalkeeper says.
"The four teams in the first pot of course, but also Nantes and Chambéry, the two other French teams and a couple of others."
And even though he cites Berlin, Szeged and Hannover as being favourites, the goalkeeper really thinks there could be a surprise among the participants in May.
"Last year, there were Holstebro, that not many expected to be there. So I'm sure a team like Skjern, like Presov or like Constanta could make it."
Black memories from Black Sea
Speaking of Constanta, he knows that his team have got bad memories of a trip to Romania.
"Montpellier had a tough time there in the Champions League a few years ago. It's one of the teams that doesn't look that frightening on paper, but when you're there, the game is tough as hell."
His teammate Dragan Gajic thinks the same way. "There are so many good teams in this EHF Cup, it's hard to pick a favourite. Of course, Berlin is one, especially playing at home, but look at what Maribor and Holstebro did last season...
"It's a very open competition, everyone has a chance to win it."
But even if there are tough matches ahead, both players confirm that the club has high expectations in the competition. "Not to make it to the quarter-finals would be a huge disappointment," says the Slovenian winger.
"We aim to reach the EHF Cup Finals, and maybe to win it. No one in the squad has ever won the EHF Cup so it will be a great premiere for all of us."
Not shy of their ambitions, Montpellier also know that winning games in European competitions means being 100% of their abilities everytime they step on the court.
"We know that if we play fully concentrated, we can almost beat anyone. But as soon as your foot steps off the gas, the opponents have enough experience and quality to make you pay for it. We've seen it against Kaustik, and we'll have to be careful not to make this mistake again."
TEXT: Kevin Domas / br
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