New era starts for still ambitious BrestArticle
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COUNTDOWN #2: Brest Bretagne Handball (FRA). The 2021 finalists have to cope with changes after coach and two key players left

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The second French team to have reached the DELO EHF FINAL4 – after Metz Handball did it in 2019 – Brest Bretagne Handball are no longer a surprise name among the Champions League favourites.

Since their debut season in 2017/18, Brest have gone step further each year, culminating in the 2020/21 final they lost to Vipers Kristiansand.

But in the 2021/22 season, Brest face a challenge since coach Laurent Bezeau and key players Ana Gros and Isabelle Gulldén have left, but the team will be expected to deliver the goods again.

Main facts:

  • Brest start in their fifth EHF Champions League season
  • they have steadily improved each season: from the group phase in 2017/18 via main round and quarter-final to the final in 2020/21
  • Brest won both the domestic league and cup in France to crown their near-perfect season
  • after eight years in charge, head coach Laurent Bezeau has been replaced with Pablo Morel
  • Ana Gros, last season’s Champions League top scorer, and Isabelle Gulldén have both left the club, with Norwegian international Helene Fauske the most notable newcomer

Main question: How much rebuilding is needed at Brest?

The best scorer of the EHF Champions League last season, the star playmaker, and the long-term coach: Ana Gros, Isbaelle Gulldén and Laurent Bezeau are no longer in Brest, indicating that the club is to start a new era. But club manager Serge Bonnamour is confident that the future is as bright as the past: “Our budget, even lower, allows us to exist both in terms of sports results and on the transfer market. Several important players left the team, but they were replaced by quality newcomers.” With three new signings, including Herning-Ikast’s Helene Fauske, not everything is to be rebuilt, as key players like captain Coralie Lassource and goalkeepers Cléopatre Darleux and Sandra Toft are still with the club.

Under the spotlight: Helene Fauske

The 24-year-old Norwegian international will have to live up to her billing as a prolific goal scorer, after she netted 70, 71 and 61 times respectively for Herning-Ikast in the Danish side’s last three seasons in EHF Cup and European League. The centre back clearly has big shoes to fill in Brest following the departure of Isabelle Gulldén – to Vipers – but she has what it takes to deliver also on the highest level of European club handball.

How they rate themselves

Been at the EHF FINAL4 last season, expectations are understandably high again. “We want to get out of the group and reach the quarter-final,” says club manager Serge Bonnamour. Goalkeeper Sandra Toft is looking forward to meeting the fans again, after a season spent mostly behind closed doors. “We missed them a lot last season and it will give us extra motivation to have them back,” Toft says.

Arrivals and departures

Arrivals: Helene Fauske (Herning-Ikast Håndbold/DEN), Aïssatou Kouyaté (ESBF Besançon), Eva Jarrige (Brest youth)

Departures: Amandine Tissier (Les Neptunes de Nantes), Laurène Catani (Mérignac Handball), Isabelle Gulldén (Vipers Kristiansand/NOR), Ana Gros (CSKA/RUS)

Past achievements

EHF Champions League

Participations (including 2021/22 season): 5
Final (1): 2020/21
Quarter-finals (1): 2019/20
Main Round (1): 2018/19
Group Matches (1): 2017/18


EHF Cup: Quarter-finals (1): 2016/17

French league: 2 titles (2012, 2021)
French cup: 3 titles (2016, 2018, 2021)

TEXT: Kevin Domas