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04.05.2017, 09:40◄ last page     

INTERVIEW: Győri Audi ETO coach Ambros Martín talks about why he feels at home in Győr, dealing with the absence of Heidi Löke and what he thinks of the FINAL4 format.

Ambros Martín: Coaching Győr is special

Four years ago Győri Audi ETO's management took a brave decision. Having lost no fewer than seven international cup finals, they appointed Spaniard Ambros Martín as their coach. Martín had taken Itxako all the way to the Women's EHF Champions League final two years before, losing at the last hurdle.

So can you image the crazy party in Győr after coach and team both won their first major European title in 2013, when they beat Larvik for the throne? No, you can’t.

“I think this is the place to be for a handball coach,” Martín says. “Győr is a beautiful city, it’s not too big, so everything is within reach and I love how enthusiastic local people are when it comes to ETO.

“We really feel at home here. I am lucky, because I can do what I love the most in such a nice city, which makes it a lot easier to deal with homesickness. The people we meet on the street, our neighbours are all nice to us, they treat us with respect and support us. Living here has been working out great for the whole family.

“Not that it didn’t surprise me to see snow in April, though,” adds the two-time Champions League winner.

Glory days of an amazing club

“I have nothing but respect for our future opponents in the TIPPMIX EHF FINAL4, but I know they would agree with me when I say Győr is special,” Martín says. “They were always there in the last two decades, playing for international trophies, fielding the best players, chasing glory against fellow elite sides of the continent. This has been achieved due to excellent management work.”

When Győr lost yet another Champions League final by the smallest possible margin, on away goals in 2012, it was their second consecutive final defeat against Buducnost, and the seventh overall.

“It is sad that people only care about the winners, yet reaching a final of any European competition is extremely difficult. That is why I am saying Győr are one of the best-managed teams as they have been maintaining this high standard for so many years now,” Martín says.

Happy end to a difficult season

Martín took a huge blow when one of the best players in the world, Heidi Löke, announced she was pregnant in November. The Norwegian star was a key player both for Győr’s defence and attack but Martín claims she is most missed from the locker room.

“Heidi is a fighter. She is the kind of player every coach wants in his team. She loves to compete, thrives under pressure and is obviously a world class player as far as her skills are concerned. There’s no denying that replacing Löke required extra efforts from the team but with such an excellent line player as Yvette Broch we learned to make up for her absence,” he explains.

The Spaniard believes his team is ready both physically and mentally to face the best teams of the continent.

“There’s obviously huge pressure on us but we are professionals who know how to cope with it.”

A special competition format

Playing the two most important games of the season in a little more than 24 hours is extremely difficult, which means it is not easy to pick a favourite.

“Last year everybody knew how strong Bucuresti were but not too many people would have picked them to win,” Martín points out. “Yet they did because they played their best when it really mattered.

“The FINAL4 format means you have two competitions in one. And when the second one begins in Budapest, all that happened throughout the season doesn’t matter any more. All battles, won and lost, are in the past, all that matters is how much you’ve learned from them.

“The point is that you don’t have to be the best during the season to win it in the FINAL4. That given weekend is when you have to be the best,” Martín concludes.

TEXT: Bence Martha / jh

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