A new coach and dreams of the main roundArticle
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Women’s EHF Champions League countdown, part 9: The French women’s champions Metz Handball hope to qualify for the main round as they welcome a number of young players and a new coach.

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A new coach and dreams of the main round

The French women’s champions, Metz Handball, will be playing under a new coach this season; Jeremy Roussel arrived at the club from men’s team Aix-en-Provence, replacing previous Metz coach, Sandor Rac.

The 36-year-old can count on a broad squad, including a number of French talents such as Claudine Mendy, who played for Buducnost and Issy Paris Hand before joining Metz this season. The French have high hopes Mendy, and fellow newcomer, Slovenian Ana Gros, can have a major impact on the team.

Along with Mendy and Gros, the club welcomed eight young French players, all of whom will be playing their first European Cup season this year. National team members Nina Kamto Njitam and Paule Baudouin remain with Metz.

Roussel, who has previously coached both Nikola and Luka Karabatic, aims to lead Metz to the main round of the EHF Champions League – a stage the club has missed in the previous two seasons.

Under the new playing format three teams from each group in the group phase will continue to the main round so Metz’s chances are stronger than before, but the team will face two strong contenders for the FINAL4 – Larvik and Baia Mare – in this early stage of the competition. Their other opponent in Group D is Polish club, Lublin.

Qualifying for the main round would be the perfect way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the club, which falls during the 2014/15 season.

Three questions to coach Jeremy Roussel:

Concerning your objectives and your group opponents, what are your expectations for the upcoming season of the Women’s EHF Champions League?

Jeremy Roussel: First, we hope to qualify for the main round. In general, we hope to take advantage of this high-level competition to develop our team, but we are in a difficult group with two favourites for reaching the FINAL4 – Larvik and Baia Mare.

What does participation in the Women’s EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?

Jeremy Roussel: It is the most prestigious competition for clubs, and it is an honour for the team and the club to participate in it. Our participation also makes it possible for our fans and partners to attend big matches in our arena. We are proud to represent our club, our city and our region in Europe.

What teams are your personal favourites to reach the FINAL4 tournament of the Women’s EHF Champions League season – and why?

Jeremy Roussel: There are many teams that could make it all the way this season. In our group, Larvik and Baia Mare are candidates. My personal favourites are Györ, Buducnost and Vardar – all of them have squads full of quality players, experience in gaining the big points, and do not have to spend too much energy in their domestic competitions.

Qualification for the Women’s EHF Champions League 2014/15 season: French champions

Claudine Mendy (Issy Paris Hand)
Hawa N'Diaye
Fiona Carrara
Raissa Dapina
Manon Entringer
Aude Euphrasie
Manon Hemmerlin
Helene Sajka
Julie Sias
Lilla Toth
Ana Gros (Thüringer HC)
Deborah Kpodar
Margaux Cintrat
Lindsay Burlet
Tamara Horacek

Left the club:
Marie Prudhomme (Nantes)
Barbora Ranikova (AS Cannes)
Svetlana Ognjenovic (end of career)

Coach: Jeremy Roussel (since 2014)

Women’s EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2014/15 season): 17
Main Round: 2011/12
Last 16: 1994/95, 1995/96
Last 32: 1993/94
Group Matches: 1996/97, 1997/98, 1999/2000, 2000/01, 2002/03, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2013/14
Qualification: 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08

Other EC records:

EHF Cup:
Finalist (1): 2012/13
Quarter-finalist (4): 2000/01, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2007/08
Last 16 (1): 2006/07

Cup Winners’ Cup:
Semi-finalist (4): 1998/99, 2003/04, 2009/10, 2010/11
Quarter-finalist (2): 2001/02, 2008/09
Last 16 (1): 2013/14

French league (19): 1989, 1990, 1993-1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004-2009, 2011, 2013, 2014
French cup (6): 1990, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2010, 2013

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cg