A prize on its own for Ademar LeónArticle
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Manolo Cadenas speaks to ehfCL.com about his young team performing above expectations and facing one of the favourites for the VELUX EHF FINAL4

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A prize on its own for Ademar León

Reale Ademar León is one of the teams you probably would not expect to reach the Last 16 round of the VELUX EHF Champions League when Group A was drawn.

But against all odds, the Spanish club finished fourth and secured fourth place in a very tough group.

All odds are against them once again as they have been paired with MKB Veszprém KC, one of the biggest sensations of this season’s competition.

Although the club is in a bit of turmoil, they have managed to get through with flying colours.

One of the men responsible for this success is Manolo Cadenas, the coach who has commanded this club for 13 seasons at different periods. ehfCL.com spoke to him before their first leg match at home on Sunday, 17 March.

ehfCL.com: Ademar in the Last 16; that is a surprise for many, is it also a surprise for those within Ademar?

Manolo Cadenas: Somehow it is a surprise also for us. Under normal conditions it would have been impossible to qualify for this Last 16 stage. But I think we have made the most when other teams have faced problems and here we are.

ehfCL.com: When did you really think “we can make it”?

Manolo Cadenas: To clinch a victory away against Montpellier at the early stage of the group phase was really key for the players and technical staff to focus and walk together in the same direction.

ehfCL.com: Was that point against SG Flensburg-Handewitt decisive in everyone’s minds?

Manolo Cadenas: When we lost against HSV Hamburg (First home game) only in the last minutes of the game we started sensing we were not far out from our goal and that we could at least compete against any team in the group. Then of course the match against Flensburg was also a key moment.

ehfCL.com: What is your opinion of Veszprem? What do you like about and fear of them?

Manolo Cadenas: For them, this year has been one for plenty of changes. They have a much better team.

Antonio Carlos Ortega and Sabas have brought in a new way of playing and a whole transformation in the philosophy of the club.

Also the new players have displayed a great performance and the results are just there, especially against Atlético Madrid and THW Kiel.

ehfCL.com: Being realistic, this will be a very tough double-header. Any tips?

Manolo Cadenas: Being realistic chances are scarce, but our performance will not be based on our hopes to qualify. We have to learn from the best teams, we need to really want to become better players and this is what must motivate us for the future.

ehfCL.com: Is playing this Last 16 round a prize on its own for Ademar de León, given the circumstances?

Manolo Cadenas: Indeed, having qualified for this round when nobody expected so and having the opportunity of playing with a team like Veszprem, who have a good chance to qualify for the FINAL4, is just a prize on its own.

ehfCL.com: When you cannot rely on a big budget to build a team like others do, what is the solution?

Manolo Cadenas: To use young talented Spanish players, to look for future stars in alternative markets like Brazil and Argentina, to try to make them be better players day by day.

I think we have one of the youngest average ages from all participants in the competition.

In situations like the one we have in Ademar you must work on a daily basis, trying to avoid the external factors can influence you.

ehfCL.com: You lie third in the Spanish League, only trailing FC Barcelona Intersport and Atlético Madrid. Can we call this a good year for Ademar?

Manolo Cadenas: Last season was already very hard. If we sit down and realise all that happened in our club at the end of the season and the little time we had to build another team we can say this is a great campaign for Ademar León so far.

About the future I prefer not to guess. We are now loosing players for economic reasons (Felipe Borges has just left for Montpellier Agglomeration HB) and still there are two months’ competition left. Only time will tell. 

TEXT: Francisco Miranda / cor