|08.09.2016, 16:50||◄ last page|
FEATURE: Spanish champions return to Women’s EHF Champions League Qualification is far from easy
Rejuvenated Bera Bera ready to put on a show at home
San Sebastian prepares for a handball gala this weekend. The Women’s EHF Champions League returns to the Basque country after a two-season absence as Super Amara Bera Bera host Qualification Group 2.
Four teams, HC Leipzig, Hypo Niederösterreich, HC Gomel and Bera Bera, will compete for a place in the group matches, with just a single ticket on the line.
Bera Bera will have home advantage but are conscious about the difficulty of the challenge ahead.
“Leipzig are the favourites in terms of quality of players, Niederösterreich have a long history and maybe Gomel are the outsiders.
“The problem is that we need two wins and this is a big effort, physically and mentally, in just two days,” says Montse Puche, Bera-Bera coach and one of the best players in Spanish history.
Bera Bera will miss the goals of the international left wing Eli Pinedo, who announced her retirement just a couple of weeks ago.
“We will miss her courage, but we must move on and the dynamic of the team is the same. Nobody is essential. We need to continue our battle.”
Without Pinedo on the court, Anna Martinez, especially in defence, and Patricia Elorza and Marta Lopez will lead the team.
“We need to do everything perfectly. We know we have the smallest budget and our players are not handball professionals,” says Puche. Bera-Bera have a young squad, with an average age of 24 years, and will rely on speed as they are not as physically imposing as their opposition.
The team find themselves in good condition after a strong preseason and last weekend’s victory in the Spanish Supercup.
Friday’s semi-final against Hypo Niederösterreich will see Bera-Bera dress in the white and blue stripes of Real Sociedad, the local football club which currently plays in Spain’s top flight ‘La Liga’.
Both clubs reached an agreement to promote women’s handball and give support Bera Bera in their quest to play in the Women’s EHF Champions League.
In addition to their investment, this deal will give more visibility to handball in the region. A full arena is expected and this is certain to give the hosts a boost.
“We will fight as much as we can, we will enjoy this weekend and hope to show the fans our best handball,” concludes coach Puche.
TEXT: Laia Coll / cor