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8 months ago - 4/13/2018

Ayglon dreams of FINAL4 success before return to France

When CSM Bucuresti changed their coach just a couple of days before the Women’s EHF Champions League Quarter-final against Metz Handball, many questioned the timing of that decision.

“The timing wasn't ideal either from our opinion, if you ask me,” says French right back Camille Auglon-Saurina. “Helle was a great coach. But it felt like no matter how hard she and the players tried, something wasn't clicking.”

Out went Dane Helle Thomsen, in came Swede Per Johansson, who also was on the CSM bench for the final part of the 2016/17 season.

"Walking into the fog"

“He had the advantage to know us, and it made us win a lot of time. The couple of weeks before the first leg against Metz were a bit like us walking into the fog,” says the 32-year-old Ayglon, who has been nominated for ‘best defender’ in the Champions League All-star Team.

“I really enjoy that, even though I have to give credit to everybody around me,” Ayglon says. “The defence has been one of our strengths this season, and it is nice to get the recognition.”

At the end of the foggy tunnel came “our best game of the season,” says Ayglon. While most experts were giving Metz a good chance to qualify for the EHF FINAL4 in Budapest, Bucharest answered on the court with a bang.

The 13-goal win (34-21) over Metz last Friday meant a huge step towards the final stage of the competition. The return leg in France will be played on Sunday at 17:00 hrs (live on ehfTV.com), while the draw for the EHF FINAL4 will take place on Tuesday at 18:00 hrs. The draw will also be streamed live on ehfTV.com as well as on the EHF Champions League Facebook page.

“It felt like the kind of game where everything you try works,” Ayglon reflects on the first leg against Metz. “Cristina, Bella, we all played very good, and the girls that came from the bench, too. I think all of us were really focused because the FINAL4 is definitely the main goal for the club every season.”

One of the highlights of her career

Ayglon went to Budapest for the first time in her career last season. Alongside winning the World Championship and playing at the Olympic Games with the French national team, the FINAL4 has definitely been one of the highlights of her career.

For the very first time, a husband and his wife might be taking part in the respective FINAL4s. While Camille and her CSM are close to qualifying for Budapest, her husband Guillaume Saurina can book a trip to Cologne with HBC Nantes, which meet Skjern Håndbold in the VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-finals later this month.

“He came over last weekend and told me that. It would be amazing, especially since I might have the opportunity to go to Cologne and see him play if Nantes qualify,” Ayglon says. “For him, to end his career on such a high would be unbelievable.”

Ayglon has signed with Nantes for next season. Does the fact that she will leave the club soon change anything to her motivation to grab a ticket for the FINAL4?

“Not really. When you are playing for Bucharest, it is almost required to qualify,” she says.

"Make the most of our moments together"

“I wouldn't play any differently if I was still here next season," Ayglon says. "But the fact that I'll be leaving in June means that I'm milking every moment I spend with my teammates. Gnonsiane Niombla is a very good friend of mine. I might not play by her side anymore so I make the most of our moments together.”

While qualification for Budapest might seem a done deal to many after the first leg, Ayglon still wants everybody on her team to be focused for 100 percent.

“I know those girls. They will want to shake us right from the beginning of the game,” she says. “Nobody has won in their arena so far, so playing in Metz is not easy. But letting go of the qualification with such an advantage would be silly.”

Author: Kevin Domas / ew