20191012 Brest Niakate
EHF Champions League

Brest ready to live up to the hype

EHF / Kevin Domas

With every new season, Brest improve in the DELO EHF Champions League. In their third campaign, last season, the French side managed to grab a quarter-final ticket, before the COVID-19 crisis put an abrupt end to the handball season.

Now, coach Laurent Bezeau and his players have their sights set on cementing a place among the top eight teams in Europe, but in a group featuring 2019 winners Györ as well as Buducnost and ambitious newcomers CSKA, that will not be an easy task.

Main facts

  • this will be Brest’s fourth participation in the top flight
  • the club gradually improved its results, reaching the main round for the first time in 2018 before qualifying for the quarter-finals last season
  • Last season, Brest finished tied with Metz at the top of the French league, hence grabbing a ticket for the EHF Champions League
  • Next season’s signings include Buducnost stalwart Djurdjina Jaukovic and Herning-Ikast line player Tonje Løseth
  • Coach Laurent Bezeau will start his eighth consecutive season on the bench

Most important question: Do Brest have the potential to finally reach the DELO’s EHF FINAL4?

“This season, the goal will be to reach the quarter-finals and to qualify for the first time to the mythical EHF FINAL4.”

The statement, made by Brest coach Laurent Bezeau, might seem a little blunt, but it captures his club’s ambition. Two seasons ago, the names on the roster, including Allison Pineau, screamed “Budapest”, the club never lived up to the hype.

But now, with lower-profiles and better cohesion, the prospect of qualifying for Budapest seems more alive than ever. There may be fewer stars in Brittany, but now the team is the main focus and things seem to be going all the better for it.

Under the spotlight: Sandra Toft

The Danish national team goalkeeper delivered an impressive first season in Brest. Her experience and saves were exactly what was missing in the previous seasons.

At 30, she proved once again why she was elected best goalkeeper in the competition in 2015, with Larvik, and was important for Brest to finally get a ticket for the quarter-finals, a first in the club’s history. If the French side are contenders for Budapest this season, Sandra Toft will have had something to do with it.

Self-esteem

In Brest, humility is a religion. And the players know that, in order to deliver the same kind of season as they did last year, they will have to work even harder.

“It will not be easy to repeat the same performance, as everybody will be expecting us now,” says captain Coralie Lassource.

How they rate themselves

Six foreign players in a roster is not a lot when it comes to the best sides in women handball. While clubs usually try to get some talent from abroad to reinforce their team, Brest trust the local talent as much as possible. This summer, only two of the four signings came from other leagues, with Buducnost back court player Djurdjina Jaukovic looking like the highest-profile arrival.

Arrivals and departures

Newcomers: Laurène Catani (Toulon Saint-Cyr), Tonje Loseth (Herning-Ikast), Djurdjina Jaukovic (Buducnost, Montenegro), Amandine Lagattu (first professional contract)

Left the club: Laurie Fontaine-Carretero (Nantes), Marta Mangué (Bourg-de-Péage), Shenia Minevskaja (Ramnicu Valcea), Gaëlle Le Hir (retired)

Past achievements

- EHF Champions League

Participations (including 2020/21 season): 4
Quarter-final (1): 2019/20
Main round (1): 2018/19
Group matches (1): 2017/18

- Other

French league: 1 title (2012)
French Cup: 2 titles (2016, 2018)

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