Pessoa determined to lift the trophy againArticle
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FEATURE: Mayssa Pessoa has already won the Women’s EHF Champions League, with CSM Bucuresti in 2016, and now the Brazilian goalkeeper wants to do the same with Rostov
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Pessoa determined to lift the trophy again

Rostov-Don have never won the Women’s EHF Champions League, but two of their players, the Brazilian duo Mayssa Pessoa and Ana Paula Rodrigues, claimed the trophy with CSM in 2016.

While Rodrigues has missed most of the current season due to injury, 34-year-old goalkeeper Pessoa helped Rostov to reach DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 for the second straight year, and now she is eager to lift the trophy.

“I am happy to reach the FINAL4 again, and I have a positive feeling looking forward to it. We have a new team this year, and a new coach, so it was not easy at the beginning. But we worked hard, and Ambros Martin showed us that it was possible to go far. He is a brilliant coach,” Pessoa told

Last year, Rostov played the DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 for the first time, but lost to Vardar in the semi-final and to CSM in the third-place match. 

“I think it’s not a secret that we had problems with our then coach Frederic Bougeant. We had a very strong team, and everyone said that we could win the title. But the coach told us that we had already reached our main goal by making it to the FINAL4, and it was a big mistake,” says Pessoa. 

“The girls were too relaxed in Budapest, and our game was horrible. It was very frustrating. Some people say that it’s much easier to play without pressure, but I don’t think so. You always need to make the pressure, and now I don’t want to just go to Budapest – I want to win the trophy.”

“We learned our lesson”

Rostov face a big challenge in the semi-final, as they have to play Metz, against whom they lost twice in the main round – 29:25 in France and 26:18 at home. However, Pessoa believes that the next game will be a totally different story: 

“We were not in our best shape then, some important players were injured, and I think we’ve learned our lesson from those defeats. They were like a wake-up call. Metz are a strong team, but a FINAL4 game will be quite different from regular season matches, so anything can happen. I’m confident that we can win and reach the final.”

The Brazilian has only positive memories about her triumph with CSM in 2016: “It was a great experience. We enjoyed playing handball, put some pressure on ourselves and believed that we could win the title. We had a real sense of togetherness within the team, and I always recall those moments with pleasure.”

Enjoying life in Russia

Prior to CSM, Pessoa had her first spell in Russia, playing for Dinamo Volgograd between 2012 and 2014, and she returned to the country again in 2017, signing with Rostov. 

“Many people ask how I can stay in Russia, but they have no idea what this country is really like. They need to come here and see that it’s not horrible at all. I’m happy with the club, team and coach, so why change anything?” says the player who extended her contract until 2021 in January.

Working with Martin gives her special pleasure: “During my 15 years in professional handball, I’ve seen many coaches, and Ambros is certainly in the top three. And it’s not only about his way of coaching, but also about his personal qualities. He is a very good man who knows how to talk with the players.”

In Rostov’s goal, Pessoa has to compete with two Russian goalkeepers, Anna Sedoykina and Galina Mekhdieva. However, she deals with it well: “I have no problems. When some of my colleagues play, I just wait for my chance, and the other way around. We always support each other and never have any conflicts. When a team aims high in several competitions, it’s good to have two or three good goalkeepers. Look at Metz, Györ or Vipers – they all boast the same.”

TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / cg