24.12.2017, 23:04◄ last page     

Women’s EHF Cup Countdown #7: Issy Paris Hand pulled off a memorable comeback to book their spot in the EHF Cup Group Phase and will take on the challenge with no fear

Issy to make most of experience after miracle progression

It was something of a miracle, when Issy clinched their berth for the group phase of the Women’s EHF Cup.

After a 31:21 away defeat at Erd in the first leg of Qualification Round 3, it looked like elimination at the hands of the Hungarian side was on the cards for a second year in a row.

However, Issy struck back in dramatic style, winning 31:20 to secure a place among the competition’s 16 best teams.

“We are truly happy to be where are after this incredible comeback, a result of mental strength,” says coach Arnaud Gandais prior to the start of the group phase, in which his side will face Kristiansand, Lada and Koebenhavn in Group B.

“We know that we are the underdogs in this group, but we will try to take the challenge and to gain as much experience as possible against strong opponents,” Gandais adds.

One of his top stars, Norwegian World Championship MVP Stine Oftedal, left for Györ in the summer, but her sister Hanna has remained, alongside fellow Norwegian and team captain Silje Solberg.

Issy managed to sign some young yet already experienced players such as Romanian line player Crina Pintea, French international Tamara Horacek and Austrian wing Sonja Frey.

Another star is Dutch left back Lois Abbingh, bronze medallist and second top scorer of the 2017 World Championship in Germany.

Thus, Issy hope for a domestic trophy and “to go as far as possible” in the EHF Cup.

“We are really proud to be part of this stage. Gaining this international experience will help us a lot in the improving French league. So we are highly motivated to start,” says Gandais, for whom Brest and Lada are the main contenders for the trophy, adding: “The Scandinavian sides such as Vipers and the Danish teams also have a chance.”

Issy have reached two European finals in recent years, losing the Cup Winners’ Cup against Hypo from Austria in 2013 and falling short in 2014 against Sweden’s Höörs in the Challenge Cup decider.

Issy Paris Hand (FRA)

Qualification for the 2017/18 EHF Cup group phase: Round 2:  26:17, 23:22 against Glassverket (NOR), Round 3 21:31, 31:20 against Erd (HUN)

Newcomers: Déborah Dangueuger (Brest Bretagne Handball), Crina Pintea (Thüringer HC), Tamara Horacek (Metz Handball), Chloé Bulleux (Siofok KC), Sonja Frey (Cercle Dijon Bourgogne), Veronika Malá (VfL Oldenburg)

Left the club: Coralie Lassource (Érd HC), Stine Oftedal (Györ Audi ETO KC), Doungou Camara (Havre Athletic Club Handball), Karolina Zalewski (End of career), Frida Tegstedt (End of career), Kalidiatou Niakaté (Nantes Loire Atlantique Handball), Pernille Wibe (End of career)

Coach: Arnaud Gandais (since 2016)

Team captain: Silje Solberg

Opponents in the group phase: Kristiansand, Lada, Koebenhavn

EHF Women’s Champions League records:
Qualification: 2012/13

Other EC records:

Cup Winners’ Cup:
Finalists: 2012/13
Semi-finals: 2015/16

EHF Cup:
Quarter-finals: 1995/96, 2008/09, 2014/15
Qualification Round 2: 2016/17

EHF Challenge Cup:
Final: 2013/14

French champion: -
French cup winner: -

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor

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