The Will and the PowerArticle
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VELUX EHF Men's Champions League countdown, part 4: Chambery Savoie Handball (FRA)

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The Will and the Power

Before the draw of the Group Phase, confidence was very high at Chambery, the runners-up of the French league. But after the balls had decided the groups, the Frenchmen were really shocked. Kiel, Barcelona, Kielce, Celje and the winner of the wild card tournament will be opponents of Chambery – and only four of them qualify for the round of the Last 16.

But Chambery coach Philippe Gardent is still confident: "Our major objective in the EHF Champions League is the qualification for the Last 16. That will be very difficult as we have to play against the best teams of the world. But we are very proud of being among those teams and for our spectators it will be a great show. And we mustn’t forget that we play handball to be able to play these kinds of matches!"

Gardent has named three objectives for the upcoming season: "We want to win one of the four national competitions. We need to qualify for the EHF Champions League season 2011/2012 and we want to qualify for the Last 16 in the EHF Champions League."

Last season, Cambery missed the knock-out stage of the EHF Champions League very closely on the last match day by losing against Velenje. Since then his team has changed. One year after their former top star Daniel Narcisse left to THW Kiel some more key players had to be replaced: Wing star and World Champion Guillaume Joli went to Spain, goalkeeper Mickael Robin replaced Karaboue in Montpellier and Gabor Csaszar return to his home country Hungary.

The most important task was to find a new goalkeeper – as Robin was told to leave in 2011, but then went earlier. Chambery had signed Nebojsa Grahovac from Bosna Sarajevo for 2011 and was then able to change the contract with the Bosnian international to starting 2010 already.

President Alain Poncet said: "I am pleased that we found a happy end to the goalkeeper story. We are very pleased with this agreement and sincerely wish Mickael good luck at continuing his career at Montpellier."

"Now we are able to build and work on a three year project with Nebojsa," manager Laurent Munier added. Additionally Chambery signed another player from Ex-Yugoslavia: Croatian Damir Bicancic came from Ademar Leon on a two year contract.

But for the future Gardent is counting on young players. Three Savoie talents, Mathieu Merceron, Kevin Rondel and Timothey N'Guessan, were part of the French squad that took the Bronze medal at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

And Gardent, who has been coaching Chambery for 14 years, has a great strength in improving younger players –an advantage for this club.

Despite having a new club logo the motto remained the same: "Chambery Savoie Handball, the will, the power!"

Key facts

Newcomers: Benjamin Massot-Pellet (from Chambery II), Nebojsa Grahovac (from HC Bosna Sarajevo), Guillaume Saurina (from Nimes), Damir Bicanic (from Ademar Leon)

Left the club: Guillaume Joli (to Valladolid), Zacharia N’Diaye (to Paris), Gabor Csaszar (to Veszprem), Mickaël Robin (to Montpellier)

Coach: Philippe Gardent (FRA, since 1996)

Club records

French Champion 2001, eight times runners-up in France, sixth participation in the EHF Champions League

Find more info here.

TEXT: Björn Pazen