Sanad: “On Tuesday nights we feel like a gang”
Two months ago, USAM Nimes Gard right wing Mohamed Sanad was living the dream. Because that was what playing the Men’s IHF World Championship in his native Egypt meant to him.
“It was a great experience. You could feel the support even without the fans in the arenas. And to say that we were out after one of the best games in the history of handball is completely crazy,” Sanad said.
With the World Championship over, the 30-year-old Sanad had to quickly reset his mind. Different games and different settings, different goals as well with his French club, USAM Nimes Gard.
“After being on such a high, you have to find motivation again. It was not that easy,” Sanad admitted.
Still, his 11 goals in a 34:34 draw at Füchse Berlin, just 10 days after his return from Egypt, showed how quickly Sanad switched the button.
The group phase game in Berlin was one of the highlights of the EHF European League Men campaign for Nimes so far. The French side finished runners-up to Füchse, the 2015 and 2018 EHF Cup winners, proving they are a team to be reckoned with.
“I’m not really surprised by our results. Last season already, we had some amazing games. On Tuesday nights, we feel like a gang, we can take on any opponent,” Sanad said. “We play maybe a little bit different than how we usually do, compared to French league games, but it seems to be working great.”
In his fourth season in Nimes, the Egyptian national team player is one of the stalwarts of the team.
While he lacked certain experience when landing in France, he has just turned 30 and the situation is different now.
“I keep saying to everyone that I’m only 29,” he said, laughing. “But I guess that, if you combine the important games with Nimes and the fact that I have been to a World Championship with Egypt, I am a little more experienced than I was.”
Sanad has been playing his best in the games that mattered most. Apart from his 11-goal outing in Berlin, he scored 14 goals in the two matches against C.S. Dinamo Bucuresti and 10 against IFK Kristianstad.
It helped him becoming his team’s leading scorer in the EHF European League, with 47.
“That is what the coach asks me: To help the young players develop, to show them the way sometimes,” he said. “I think that it is expected of me to be one of those guys who pull everyone through the hard times.”
The first leg of the Last 16 tie against Chekhovskie medvedi in Russia last week was a difficult one for Nimes, losing 30:25 in a match where Sanad sat on the bench throughout with a heel injury.
“Everything went wrong for us, especially in the second half. It was not the USAM team I know,” said Sanad, who has recovered and will be on court again for the decisive leg in France on Tuesday at 20:45 CEST (live on EHFTV).
The mood on the plane was a mix between disappointment and knowing that we can make it. Even without our fans, we can set the arena alight on Tuesday.
Even though Nimes will likely have to win by six in order to make it through to the quarter-final, the confidence is still high.
The EHF European League Finals remains one of the club’s goals for this season, and Nimes have proven in recent times they can turn a deficit into a victory.
“The mood on the plane was a mix between disappointment and knowing that we can make it,” Sanad said about the team's journey back to France last week.
“Even without our fans, we can set the arena alight on Tuesday.”