Javier Equisoain: “Our group is the strongest”Article
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Former legendary Portland coach talks to Eurohandball.com about Main Round Group 3, probably the most balanced one.

Javier Equisoain: “Our group is the strongest”

The main round draw of the CL was unlucky for Portland San Antonio. Flensburg, Hamburg and Croatia Zagreb are not very easy rivals, so the Spanish team are not satisfied with the result. Eurohandball.com asked the opinion of sports manager of Portland San Antonio, Javier “Zupo” Equisoain. Though he is not on the bench any more, but he knows the next opponents perfectly.

Eurohandball.com: What do you think about the draw?

The most prolific player, Rusega, scored 43 goals for Portland so farJavier Equisoain: I think that we were drawn to the strongest group. There are four top European clubs going for a semi-final place. We could have less difficult teams, but we can also look at the result from a different perspective. Pamplona will host three great matches and the fans will enjoy the games in the sports hall. All teams have equal chance to reach first place. It is impossible to say which team will be in the semi-finals. We must wait and see which team will be in the best form in February, who will have injuries and we also have to see the European Championship in Norway. I only know that there will be a huge competition in the group.

Eurohandball.com: Is it good news to avoid Kiel?

Javier Equisoain: We wanted to avoid Kiel and Hamburg, but we were not lucky. We will meet Hamburg and another German team, Flensburg. The latter were finalists of the last CL and Hamburg won Cup Winners’ Cup. I think that the most important match will be in Zagreb. The teams that win in Zagreb will be able to fight for the semi-final, but the teams that lose in Zagreb will be out. We will need four or five victories to win the group. Every team must win the matches at home and one or two more away. I think that the key to qualify could be Zagreb.

Eurohandball.com: Can tell us about the rivals?

Javier Equisoain: Croatia Zagreb have a very good team and strong sponsors. They signed Kiril Lazarov, Mirza Dzomba and Igor Vori and they kept the team of the last seasons. I do not know why they performed under expectations in the previous phase, but they will surely be hard opponents. I’m sure that one of the German teams or Portland will win in Zagreb and this victory will be very, very important. Flensburg have been improving during the season. I’m falling in love with handball of Lackovic. He is a star and they have other important players such as Vranjes, Beutler or Knudsen. They are a Nordic team with very high quality handballers. Hamburg won the Cup Winners’ Cup. Gille brothers, Pascal Hens, Torgovanov… I think Hamburg are just as good as Flensburg or even better.

Eurohandball.com: Which is the favourite team for you?

Javier Equisoain: It is impossible to know. I only know that every team of the group think that the other teams are very difficult. No one can be happy with the draw in this group.

TEXT: Fernando Urra Goñi