A dream came true to continue the Pamplona handball storyArticle
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EHF Cup club countdown, part 2: Helvetia Anaitasuna (ESP)
»2015-16 Men's News

A dream came true to continue the Pamplona handball story

Pamplona is a famous place in terms of handball.

In 2001, Portland San Antonio ended the winning streak of five straight trophies for FC Barcelona, beating the Catalans in the All-Spanish EHF Champions League finals.

Players like Ivano Balic and Jackson Richardson imprinted handball in Pamplona.

San Antonio is history now but Pamplona is back on track in European Cup competitions.

Helvetia Anaitasuna make their debut in the EHF Cup after finishing among the top three in the Spanish Liga Asobal last season.

Helvetia Anaitasuna have a 50 year tradition in handball.

Most of Anaitasuna’s players are regional, with only three foreign players in the squad.

The new coach Juan Tomas Apezetxea started his mission in November 2015 as the successor of Iñaki Perez, who became coach at the start of the season, after he had coached the second team of the club.

Apezetxea had been working in both Pamplona based clubs before, San Antonio and Anaitasuna.

The club, named for ten years after the insurance company Helvetia, had their first ever European Cup match in Belgium, and paved the way to the group phase by winning 28:20 at Hasselt.

Even their 24:26 home defeat in the re-match of the third qualification round did not harm Anaitasuna.

Now they will face CSM Bucuresti, Ystads IF and Chambery Savoie Handball in Group D of the EHF Cup Group Phase.

For the next six matches the club hopes to “get some victories” in this phase and to finish in the top 8 of the Spanish league again.

Three questions to coach Juan Tomas Apezetxea:

What are your expectations for the Group Phase of the EHF Cup regarding your objectives and your group opponents?
Juan Tomas Apezetxea: We will try to be competitive in every game. We know how difficult this group is, but we will fight to get some victories. Perhaps Chambery is on a higher level but I think that we can win at home against Ystads or Bucuresti.

What does the participation in the Group Phase of the EHF Cup mean to you and your club?
Juan Tomas Apezetxea: It is a dream for the club. It was important to survive the qualification, so the visits to Chambery or Sweden will be beautiful. Our fans will watch top level games in our arena and I hope to enjoy it. I hope to be in a better situation in Asobal League to really enjoy these games.

What teams are your personal favourites to reach the EHF Cup Finals?
Juan Tomas Apezetxea: It is too soon to talk about favourites because things can change quite quickly. I think the French and German teams are the favourites - like Chambery, Nantes, Göppingen and Magdeburg.

Helvetia Anaitasuna (ESP)

Newcomers: Ander Ugarte (Bada Huesca, Spain), Angel Perez (Volendam, Netherlands), Alvaro del Valle (BM Aragon, Spain), Sergey Hernandez (second team Anaitasuna, Spain)

Left the club: Ibai Meoki (HG Saarlouis, Germany), Ricard Reig and Alex Capon (both Sant Quirze, Spain), Ruben Montavez (Cavigal Nice, France)

Coach: Juan Tomas Apezetxea (since November 2015, successor of Iñaki Perez)
Team captains: Miguel Goni and Carlos Chocarro

Qualification for the EHF Cup Group Phase: Round 3 against Hubo Initia Hasselt 28:20, 24:26

TEXT: Björn Pazen / ec