Young, but experiencedArticle
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EHF Women’s Champions League countdown, part 10: Metz Handball (FRA)

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Young, but experienced

After Toulon surprisingly snatched the title from the French record champions in the 2009/2010 season, Metz are now back on track again.

By winning their 17th domestic championship they are among the 16 best women’s teams in Europe again.

Difficult group but high hopes

And after being eliminated several times in the qualification or the Group Phase, the hopes are high to proceed to the Main Round for the first time ever.

But the Frenchwomen also know that it will be hard to finish second in their group with opponents like Györ, Hypo and Randers.

In the last years Metz have shown their international strength by reaching the semi-finals of the Cup Winners’ Cup twice in 2010 and 2011.

Twelve new players

Coach Sébastien Gardillou had to implement in total twelve new players, including five talents from the youth program of their club.

And Gardillou can count on a World Champion, as Russian international Ekaterina Andryushina came from Zvezda Zvenigorod.

Marion Limal arrived from their Group Stage opponents Hypo Niederösterreich and Yvette Broch from Spain.

Five players left

On the other hand five players left the team, including goalkeeper Cléopâtre Darleux and the two Balkan players Kristina Franic and Lidija Horvat.

Many French internationals

But still a huge number of French internationals – runners-up of the World Championship 2009 – like former World Handball Player of the year 2009, Allison Pineau, Nina Kamto, Katty Piejos (currently out of training after a rupture in the crucial ligament) or goalkeeper Amandine Leynaud belong to the squad.

Proud President

President Thierry Weizman is looking forward to an attractive international season: "We are very excited to be able to play in a competition like the EHF Women’s Champions League.

We are aware of the difficult task given to us in a group comprising a major team in women's handball like Györ, a prestigious club as Hypo Niederösterreich and an experienced team like Randers.

It is clear that the matches will be difficult and competitive. We will try to honor the work done for years by French clubs and national team.

We are proud to represent France in the best competition in the world."

Three questions to coach Sébastien Gardillou What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the EHF Women’s Champions League – concerning your objectives and your group opponents?

Sébastien Gardillou: To face Györ, Hypo and Randers is truly an honor, as these opponents are prestigious performers.

We understand the challenges ahead of us. Györ are dreaming of the big success and have signed the biggest stars in the world.

Hypo create a little cultural revolution and will perform with more South American than European players.

In Randers, a top representative of Danish handball, we will face nearly the whole national team. So we have an enormous program ahead! What does the participation in the EHF Women’s Champions League mean to you and your club?

Sébastien Gardillou: Of course, we want to be successful in front of our fans in our home arena.

Our team is young, but experienced. The addition of world-class players gives our project credibility.

We will try to compete with a maximum of freshness and enthusiasm knowing that our national championship continues to raise its level. What teams are your personal favourites for winning the title this season – and why?

Sébastien Gardillou: Györ because of their strength, Itxako for the beauty of their game,

Buducnost for their technical skills, Valcea for being the Romanian national team, and Metz as the surprise team.

Club facts – Metz Handball (FRA)

Newcomers: Laura Glauser Roseline Ngo Levy, Grace Zaadi, Solenne Ferrigioni, Marine Cocciale (all training center Metz), Marie Prudhomme (Arvor), Ekaterina Andryushina (Zvezda Zvenigorod/RUS), Yvette Broch (Alcobendes/ESP), Marion Limal (Hypo Niederösterreich/AUT), Aramata Dembele, Jurswally Luciano (Kwintsheul/NED)

Left the club: Koumba Cisse (Fluery/FRA), Carolin Schmele (Blomberg/GER), Kristina Franic (Krim Ljubljana/SLO), Lidija Horvat (Podravka/CRO), Cléopâtre Darleux (Arvor)

Coach: Sébastien Gardillou, since 2010

Qualification for the 2011/2012 EHF Women’s Champions League season: French champions

EHF Women’s Champions League records:
Participations (including 2011/2012 season): 14
Last 16: 1994/95, 1995/96
Last 32: 1993/94
Group Phase/Champions League: 1996/97, 1997/98, 1999/00, 2000/01, 2008/09, 2009/10
Qualification: 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08

Other EC records:
Cup Winners Cup semi-finalist: 1998/99, 2003/04, 2009/10, 2010/11

French champions: 15 times
French Cup winner: 7 times

Further information

Find more information on Metz Handball HERE.

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TEXT: Björn Pazen