Pineau ready to become a more complete playerArticle
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INTERVIEW: Krim’s big winter signing is looking forward to a new chapter in her career and taking on a new role on the court

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Pineau ready to become a more complete player

Even though she's signed her contract with Krim Mercator back in November, French centre back Allison Pineau has only moved to Slovenia in January.

“I'm still finding my feet in Lubljana," she explains. "I've just moved in, and I'm still quite a tourist here, exploring the city and developing new habits.”

But if she's still a newcomer in her everyday life, she seems to have found her way on the court pretty quickly. "I've been playing as a centre back so far, and as a middle woman I have to develop habits with the other players quite quickly," says the 25-years-old, who hasn't played a league game since September 2014, due to a shoulder injury.

However, she was seen on the court at EHF EURO 2014 in December, where France finished fifth, which remains a small regret for her. "I think that was the least we could do. I even think we should have reached the semi-finals, but you know, I'll try to use this frustration with Krim Mercator.”

While a lot of players suffer tiredness in January after the EURO, Pineau explains that she feels fully fit as "I didn't play any game between September and December last year. The EURO was a bit of a warm-up for me, and now I feel that I am 100% fit."

Long road back to Budapest

And Krim Mercator will need all of her talent if they are to contend the Women’s EHF FINAL4, coming out of a group that will see the Slovenian side face Thüringer, Leipzig and Vardar Skopje.

“When you see that we'll be competing against Vardar Skopje and Thüringer, we can't help but feel a little bit like the underdogs,” says the World Handball Player of the Year in 2012.

“To talk about goals right now feels a little bit too early. We'll know more about our abilities when we've played the first two games."

Pineau, who took part in the inaugural Women’s EHF FINAL4 last June, admits she'd like to go back there. And the earlier, the better.

“There's no point in lying, this is why I wanted to play in a top team after leaving Vardar Skopje. The Champions League is the ultimate trophy you can win with your club.”

To reach it this season, Allison Pineau will have to beat two France teammates, Amandine Leynaud and Siraba Dembélé, who play with Macedonians Vardar.

“We've talked about it when I signed with Krim, but nothing much has been said so far,” she smiles. “I don't doubt that my phone will be ringing a little bit more the week before the game. It will be a little bit stranger facing my two friends.”

With Vardar Skopje, it sometimes felt that Pineau was one star among the others, Marta Bon, Krim's head coach, has recruited her to bring some experience to the roster.

“We have a young team, but with a lot of talent waiting to explode. To recruit Allison felt like something we had to do, to add some experience.”

A new role that the centre back feels confident in endorsing: “It will be a little bit different to what I've been used to in the past. But being the most experienced player will help me build myself as well, to become a more complete player.”

TEXT: Kevin Domas / cor