FEATURE: The two teams from Portugal are fighting for the Challenge Cup trophy and Benfica's goalkeeper Figueira sees it as a great chance for Portuguese handball.
Benfica wait for ABC/UMinho in the Red’s Inferno
This weekend, SL Benfica and ABC/UMinho will play the first leg of the Challenge Cup Finals. A historic achievement for the Portuguese handball, which has two teams competing in a European final for the first time.
The Men's Challenge Cup Final first leg SL Benfica (POR) vs ABC/UMinho (POR) on Saturday 14 May, 20:30 local time, can be watched live on ehfTV.
Hugo Figueira, goalkeeper of Benfica, spoke to eurohandball.com about the two matches to come.
"A final with two Portuguese teams is undoubtedly very prestigious for Portuguese handball. Portugal has a lot of quality players and we want to show Europe that the country is able to return to the big stage," comments Hugo Figueira.
This is the fourth time that ABC/UMinho play a European final and the second Challenge Cup Final for S.L. Benfica. Apart from them, other teams like Sporting da Horta and Sporting Clube de Portugal have already played the Challenge Cup Final and Sporting won it in the 2009/10 season.
For Benfica’s player, Portuguese teams "have room to evolve" and very soon "will be among the best."
ABC/UMinho and Benfica already know each other quite well. This season, they already played against each other four times and each team has two wins at home. Last weekend, they started disputing for the national title and, in total, they face seven times this month.
For the goalkeeper, "all games against ABC are difficult and the fact that this is a final only increases the difficulty." In addition, Figueira believes the final "will be decided in the details" and "who misses less will win."
To counter the aggressive defence, the "very well organized" attack and "very effective" counter-attacks of Braga’s team, the goalkeeper says that Benfica will have to use the team's connection and spirit. "None of us is stronger than all of us together," he added.
The goal is to conquer three trophies
In April, Benfica won the fifth Portuguese Cup (Taça de Portugal). By the end of the season, the team can also get the national title and the Challenge Cup trophy.
The first leg of the Challenge Cup Finals will be held this weekend, in Lisbon. Figueira says the goal is to win the two titles that remain (Challenge Cup and national title) and that they are playing again ABC to offer their fans the two trophies.
"The fans have been the eighth player and never left us alone. We hope for their massive presence in this game and we want to turn our home into an inferno," says Figueira, adding that this "is being a dream season".
"Our team is very young but has a lot of ambition. We performed an upward path, which allowed us to evolve throughout the season. Given these facts, the balance is extremely positive," finishes Figueira.
TEXT: Filipa Sousa / es
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