FEATURE: Hugo Canela is aiming to lead Sporting to their second Challenge Cup trophy against Romanian side AHC Potaissa Turda.
Dominant Sporting aim to take final step to glory
Sporting CP have been dominant against every team they have faced so far in this seasons Men's Challenge Cup. Their smallest aggegrate victory in the competition has been by 14 goals.
Their final step in this competition begins this Saturday, with Hugo Canela’s team needing to defeat AHC Potaissa Turda in a two-legged final to have the happy ending they crave.
Both legs of the Challenge Cup final will be on ehfTV.
"The two final games will be of hugely difficult, especially with playing the second leg in Romania," Hugo Canela starts by saying.
(Image by Sporting CP)
"I've had the opportunity to watch Potaissa Turda play, and their defensive aggressiveness is one of their strong characteristics," explains the coach, adding that the Romanian team also has "really good extremes" and "a goalkeeper that helps the team a lot".
Sporting need to get the best result possible in the first leg, as they know that Potaissa Turda will have a raucous crowd cheering them on in Romania.
First experience as head coach
After the departure of Zupo Equisoain as coach of the Portuguese team in February, Hugo Canela took the reigns. This is the first time that the 37-year-old former Sporting player has assumed a position of head coach.
"As a player you can run and fight and release the tension physically, but as a coach this is not possible. I think I suffer a lot more as a coach," says Canela.
Canela is motivated to be part of the club's history and is happy to have the opportunity, but admits that he has faced many challenges - most of all a lack of time to prepare due to a busy playing schedule.
"Since I took on this challenge we have played 15 games in two months, and the need to prepare for games does not leave much time to work some things out. We choose the priorities and attack these aspects, without 'ifs' or 'buts'."
Since February, Canela changed some group dynamics and tried to improve the speed and aggressiveness of Sporting's game. Now Hugo Canela can win a second Challenge Cup for Sporting, who lifted the trophy in the 2009/10 season.
"Being able to put Sporting in the European history books again would be of immense pride and joy. It would be something we would like to give to our fans, who follow us relentlessly."
Sporting's appearance in the final continues a fine tradition for Portuguese teams in the Men's Challenge Cup, with this being the third consecutive year that at least one team from Portugal has reached the final.
Last season the final was an all-Portuguese affair between SL Benfica and ABC/Uminho, and in 2014/15 the latter reached the final but lost to Romanian side Odorhei.
"Portugal is winning its space in European handball and we will fight very hard to show our quality," adds the coach.
TEXT: Filipa Sousa / ap
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