08.11.2019 15:20

Nantes’ Dancette excited about clash with title-holders

Even after many seasons of playing in various European Cup competitions, some ties also make the most experienced players excited.

On Sunday, Nantes Atlantique will face Women’s EHF Cup title-holders Siófok in qualification round 3 and for Blandine Dancette, this is something to look forward to.

“As soon as we knew our opponents, we were really looking forward to it,” the right wing says. “We had to calm ourselves down and think about the league games that were on the schedule first. But now that we’ve won them both, we can get excited.”

Discovering new places, new handball styles

At 31, Dancette has started in her eighth European Cup season. Even though she has never played the DELO WOMEN’S EHF Champions League, she has been around Europe a few times and she has fond memories of it.

“The highlight is probably when we won the Challenge Cup with Nîmes in 2009,” she says. “As a team, that was a wonderful journey. We played well, but more than that, we went to Austria, Germany, Ukraine, discovering new places, new handball styles. That’s what the EHF Cup is about to me.”

A new handball style is what Allan Heine has brought to Nantes since his arrival in November last year. The Danish coach, thanks to his international experience, will be an asset for his team on Sunday, when Nantes play the first leg of their tie against Siófok.

What his players like about him most, is how he always thinks positive.

“If you’re looking for the best example of a positive attitude, look at him,” Dancette says. “He’s always bouncing, being really happy. Even when he talks about our performances, the only things he’ll tell are what we did good.

Nantes eased past Dutch side H.V. Quintus in round 2 (66:39 on aggregate) and the French side will have to do well again if they want to go past Siófok. The Hungarian side are looking like obvious favourites ahead of the clash.

“Yes, they probably are,” says Dancette. “But we will do our best at home to keep our chances alive ahead of the return game. That two such teams are playing each other in the third round proves that the EHF Cup has really turned into a high-level competition now.”

Getting in the mood for Sunday's game

With Nantes Atlantique facing a high-profile opponent, the city of Nantes, is slightly getting into the mood for Sunday’s game.

“More people are coming to see us since we have been playing in a new arena. We are nowhere near football or HBC Nantes, the men’s club, but you can still feel things going in the right way,” says Dancette, who recalls some crazy scenes of enthusiasm when she played the Challenge Cup with Nîmes a few seasons ago.

“The city mayor was here, the arena was sold out. You know you’re doing something good when the politicians are coming to your games,” she says with a smile. “If we beat Siófok, maybe someone very important will turn up.”

Author: Kevin Domas / ew