Alonso before the semi-final against Veszprem: “Everybody is in the same position”

Opening press semi-final 1

Years 2016, 2017 - and now in 2020? Telekom Veszprem and Meshkov Brest will duel on Friday at 18:00 CET in the first semi-final of the SEHA - Gazprom League at Zadar. It is the duel of two Spanish coaches - David Davis (Veszprem) and Raul Alonso (Brest) - and it is the third time after 2016 and 2017, those teams lock horn in a semi-final of this competition, both were won by two-times SEHA - Gazprom League champions Veszprem.

Though the Hungarian record champions have won all SEHA - Gazprom League Final 4 matches against the Belorusian champions so far and even had won both regular-season matches against Brest, David Davis does not want to be in the favourite role: “We do not know about our chances. My players are in a fantastic physical condition, they had worked hard in the gym and on the court. The team is ready and I am really confident with them”, Davis said in the pre-match press conference at Zadar on Thursday, adding: “We come to fight every season. We are happy that we are here, we feel no pressure. We are happy that we can be here in this situation. We came to fight for the first position, we are focused to win.”
His counterpart Raul Alonso is undergoing several changes in his team, but: “We are all in the same position after such a long break and a long time without handball. And to play at a Final 4 is always a mixture of daily performance, high quality and sometimes a bit of luck. We know that we face a great team with great players in the semi-final. But we came here to make it to the final and fight for the trophy. But we know that we have to play very well to beat a team like Veszprem.”

In terms of preparation, Alonso is sure that “in the last one, two weeks, we were getting closer to where we want to be. On Sunday, the team will win the title, which adapts the best with this new situation.” Brest’s Croatian goalkeeper Ivan Pesic hopes to end the series of defeats against Veszprem: “Maybe we have an advantage that our break was not as long as for the other participants. We had some ups and downs in the preparation, but now, when it comes to competition, those results do not matter at all.”

Veszprem playmaker Mate Lekai sees him team getting better day by day, also by integrating the new arrivals: “The new players need time to understand everything, and time to get used to playing together. But as the tournament for the first time is at the start of the season, every team has the same problem, so we cannot complain. Though no Hungarian fans will be able to make it to Zadar, Lekai knows “that they stand behind us, watching the matches on TV. We want to focus on our job, which is to finish on the winners’ podium. But we know that we still need some time to train and play until we have reached our top level.”
Before the Opening Press conference, Sinisa Ostoic, SEHA – Gazprom League Managing Director, unveiled the new, golden trophy of the competition, which will be handed over to the winner on Sunday night at Zadar. Ostoic is confident that - despite the current situation - the Final 4 tournament will be a great one: “Though it is not easy to organize an event like this, we cannot wait for the start to come. We have very strong teams here - and I hope everything will be alright. We are happy that handball is back!”

In terms of safety and hygiene regulations, Ostoic explained that “a lot of details needed to be done, but this event can be a great case study for upcoming handball tournaments on a European level”. As the Managing Director announced, a certain number of fans will be allowed in the Arena in Zadar: “We are in close coordination with the epidemiologist and we are happy to have as many fans as possible in the playing hall.”