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14.10.2016, 17:10◄ last page     

FEATURE: There is no doubt about a special motivation the Paris-born left winger of SG Flensburg-Handewitt has ahead of the Match of the Week in the VELUX EHF Champions League Round 4.

Mahe wants to show his best side in Paris

After an easy win against Kadetten Schaffhausen, Paris Saint-Germain Handball will face the first big test of their European campaign without innjured Nikola Karabatic on Sunday, when facing SG Flensburg-Handewitt.

The two teams already faced each other twice last season, in two very different games, with each team picking up wins at home.

“To me Paris seems like favourites, not least because they'll be playing at home,” said Flensburg's French playmaker Kentin Mahe.

“They have got a lot of ambition, their summer signings proves it,” he added.

But if signing the likes of Uwe Gensheimer and Luka Stepancic is a way of improving your team, making only one change to your roster is another one, and Mahe - who has got bigger responsibilities at the moment with the injury to Rasmus Lauge Schmidt - thinks Flensburg has improved its potential.

“We are stronger than last year, I think the stability has allowed us to make our relationships on the court better,” he said.

“Our work is more precise this day since we already know each other. Compared to other teams, we have won time by not changing anything.”

The top spot is not a priority

Yet, in three games in the VELUX EHF Champions League, Flensburg-Handewitt has only collected three points and quite surprisingly it doesn't seem to bother anyone too much in the north of Germany.

“The house is definitely not burning, we know six teams make it to the next round, and our aim is to be part of those,’” said Mahe. “The team has many priorities and the first spot in the group isn't at the top of the list.”

Well, that is a strange thing for a competitor to say, but he is very keen on explaining his, and his teammates point of view.

“We don't have a roster as big as Kielce, Veszprem, Barcelona or Paris, and everybody knows that the season is very long. The Champions League definitely is a priority, but losing against Barcelona was upsetting, not a massive disaster,” assessed the 25-year-old.

Very happy to meet my friends

Would losing in Paris be one, then? Well, let's say that this game is close to the heart of Kentin Mahe and for obvious reasons.

“I was born in Paris, I play with the French national team, so of course it's a little bit special to play here,” he laughed.

“I'll be very happy to meet again with some friends and in games against people you know, you always want to show your best side. In some ways it forces you to better yourself because your opponent knows you very well.”

Even though Nikola Karabatic will be missing, Paris can still call on eight French national players in its ranks and two Danes. Flensburg on the other hand, can pick from six Danes and one Frenchman on its roster.

Seems like the battle between these two giants will remind you, just a little bit, of the last Olympic final. Just with Mikkel Hansen and Kentin Mahe not playing on the right side.

TEXT: Kevin Domas / sc

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