Statements from the EHF Cup Group Phase draw
16 teams learned their fate in the EHF Cup Group Phase draw on Thursday afternoon in Vienna, the results of which can be found here.
eurohandball.com spoke to club representatives of all 16 clubs as well as EHF President Jean Brihault after the draw.
Füchse Berlin’s Bob Hanning (in Group D against Constanta, Chambery and Hlohovec):
“We will try to do our best to have a fantastic weekend for the finals in Berlin and hopefully invite just three teams to come to Berlin.
“As we just signed the contracts today, tickets will probably go on sale in January.
“I think it will be very difficult to qualify. We have Constanta and Chambery, who have been in the Champions League many times in the past, it will be a very interesting and hard draw for us.”
Gael Pelletier from HBC Nantes, last season’s EHF Cup Finals hosts (in Group C alongside, Szeged, Presov and Kristianstad):
“I hope that our team can reach the finals Berlin, it is a fantastic place. The event was a great experience for us last year and I’m sure it will be the same in Berlin.
“It is a very difficult draw against three good teams, but I still hope that we can qualify for the Quarter-finals.”
Laurent Munier of Chambery Savoie Handball (in Group D with Berlin, Constanta and Hlohovec):
“We have found motivation for this competition, it is a new tournament for us and I think we have a good chance to reach the finals.
“I hope that we will have all of our players returning on time for the first game and we will have to fight very hard to progress.”
Montpellier Agglomeration HB’s Robert Molines (Group B against Skjern, Zomimak and Sporting CP):
“Our ambitions are very high, we want to challenge for the finals, but first we have to deal with our group.
“Our opponents are not easy. Skjern are a strong team, Zomimak away in Macedonia will not be easy and we have experience of playing Sporting from about 10-12 years ago, so it will be nice to meet them again.”
Nandor Szögi from Pick Szeged (in Group C alongside Presov, Nantes and Kristianstad):
“I have mixed feelings about the draw. I feel that we may have come up against easier teams, but I knew before the draw that there are no real easy games as we are among the best 16 teams in the EHF Cup.
“Fortunately, we have very good and very enthusiastic spectators at Szeged and I am sure that we will have a full arena for all of the games.
“In my opinion it is quite difficult to suggest which team will be the most difficult opponent, maybe Nantes will be the biggest rival, but we will see.”
José C. Ludena of Reale Ademar Leon (in Group A with Hannover, Lugi and Csurgoi):
“We’ve played against Hannover about six years ago in a very close tie and we expect the same again.
“For us it is the first time in this competition and it is hard to know what the reaction of the club will be, but I think that all of the matches in our group will be very interesting.”
Skjern Handbold’s Anders Dahl-Nielsen (in Group B against Montpellier, Zomimak and Sporting):
“We have a goal to go to the quarter-finals, although we know it will be very difficult.
“We are working every day to make the Danish league better and better, I think we are improving each year and that is the reason why we hope to progress because I think we are strong enough.
“It is a challenge to meet these three teams from the south of Europe and hopefully beat them.”
Benjamin Chatton, TSV Hannover-Burgdorf (in Group A with Ademar, Lugi and Csurgo): "First of all, we are very proud to be part of the European family in this year. This group is very interesting for us as our line player Juan Andreu comes from Ademar Leon, so it will be a match for him. He will be our guests' manager. I hope we will see interesting matches and I also hope we will go to the next round.“
Aleksandar Jankov, HC Zomimak-M (in Group B with Montpellier, Skjern and Sporting): "It is a good group for us and we are satisfied with the draw. We are quite confident we can reach the next stage. The most difficult opponent will be for sure Montpellier.“
Branko Benko, Tatran Presov (in Group C with Szeged, Nantes and Kristianstad): "More or less all sixteen clubs in this stage are strong, what they proved by reaching the group phase. We are looking forward to meeting the other team which played the group phase last season besides us and also two other teams Szeged and Kristianstad.
"Everything is wide open. We have to gain points on our home court and steal some points from away matches. Our ambitions are high – we want to qualify for the quarter-finals and fight for a spot at the EHF Cup Finals. I guess we are the favourites of this group.“
Martin Liptak, HC Sporta Hlohovec (in Group D with Füchse, Constanta and Chambery): "There is nobody who can defeat us in this group (laugh). But seriously, we are very satisfied with this draw. I wished to meet with Füchse in order to give our boys a chance to play this level of handball in the Berlin's arena and against their stars. Our mission will not be just to pick some experience, our aim is to have our opponents sweat too.“
Frederico M Santos, Sporting CP (in Group B with Montpellier, Skjern and Zomimak): "FC Porto in the Champions League are a good example for us. So we will try to be strong in Europe too. It is a good challenge for us. This competition is completely new for us, but we will try to give our best.“
Péter Erdélyi, Csurgoi KK (in Group A with Hannover, Lugi and Ademar): "We are very happy to be here. This our first year in Europe, so the most important for us is learning. We will try to perform as well as we can.“
Radu Popa, HCM Constanta (in Group D with Füchse, Chambery and Hlohovec): "We are in a tough group. Actually, I think this is the toughest group, but still we have a chance and we will play hard for it. Füchse Berlin are the strongest team in this group, no doubt. They played in the Champions League last season and they are the biggest favourites of the whole competition. Bur we will fight for the second place.“
Nikolas Larsson, IFK Kristianstad (in Group C with Szeged, Presov and Nantes): "We had hoped for opponents which would attract more interest and also give our fans an opportunity to travel for away matches. We have a great respect to our three opponents handball-wise, they are top quality.
„But for our supporters it will be more difficult to go there. But of course it will be three fantastic matches at home. We hopefully fill our arena of 5,000 spectators for a top level handball. This competition is a new dimension for our club as we are growing rapidly.
"We want to have a future where we can compete with the very top of Europe, so this will be a very thrilling step for us.“
Leif Andersson, Lugi HF (in Group A with Hannover, Ademar, and Csurgo): "We are going to meet three very strong teams. I assume Hannover will be the strongest team in our group followed by Ademar Leon. We do not know anything about Csurgo, although we met another Hungarian team Tatabanya on our way here.“
EHF President Jean Brihault:
“The first year has been fantastic I think, there has been a remarkable development over the season, with the interest growing round after round.
“At Nantes, by the sea, the weather was not too good, but the people were in the hall watching and the heat during the games was fantastic.
“It was not a surprise to see applications from all around Europe to host the finals, but it was a great satisfaction and it is another index of the success of the competition that so many cities wanted to host the final tournament and it boasts well for the future.”
TEXT: EHF / cor