Toulouse target a big European season
Last season, Fenix Toulouse missed out on the European League Last 16 by the narrowest of margins as Austrian side Fivers edged by them on the final day of the group phase. If it left a bitter taste in their mouth, the staff and the players were quick to get moving again.
After undergoing several changes in the summer, both on and off the court, Toulouse have the ambition to push on and achieve a better result than they did last season.
- Fenix qualified for the European League by finishing sixth in the French league, one place below their result from 2019/20
- this season, Toulouse got through two qualifying rounds, as they went past Alpla Hard (66:55 on aggregate) and Malmö (59:49 on aggregate)
- last season, Toulouse were eliminated after the group phase, having finished fifth in group A. Their fate was decided in the last round, when Fivers got past them on the head to head record to grab a ticket for the Last 16.
- multiple changes were made to the roster this season. Adding to the replacement of Philippe Gardent on the bench, five new players signed while seven chose to follow another path
Main question: Did the summer transfer market strengthen the team?
Several key players from last season will not be playing for Toulouse this season. Line player Henrik Jakobsen left to Nîmes, leaving the line player position to be rebuilt almost entirely, while the back court lost Pierre Soudry and Sadou Ntanzi in the summer. Recruits will need time to adapt, as we were able to see in the first games of domestic competitions.
Even though new coach Danijel Andjelkovic was Philippe Gardent’s assistant for the last six seasons, he is certain to bring new things to the table. And while he wants to qualify for the next phase, the former centre back is also talking about the pleasure he wants his boys to take while playing.
“We want to enjoy to enjoy playing and competing against the best European teams, to gather experience and improve our team.”
Under the spotlight: Nemanja Ilic
The 31-year-old left wing is starting his eighth season playing for Toulouse and he has become one of the stalwarts in the dressing-room.
Season after season, he remains the team’s best scorer as his efficiency, especially from penalties, is crucial. Last season, his efforts were not rewarded but his winning mentality and stability will be important for a side that has experienced so many changes over the summer.
How they rate themselves
As the club enters their second straight season in the European League, captain Pierrick Chelle is full of ambition.
“We hope we can be the surprise of this season and reach the Finals. For me, the favourites are Nantes, Füchse Berlin and Benfica.” In a group that will see Fenix rub shoulders with Berlin and Plock, two of the participants of last season’s EHF Finals, the French side will definitely not be favourites. But they will have a chance to make it to the Last 16.
Did you know?
After signing coaches from the outside until now, president Philippe Dallard made the choice to recruit from within this summer, when former coach Philippe Gardent announced he was leaving.
Three former centre backs are now the driving force in the club, as Danijel Andjelkovic took the reins of the team, while another former player of the club, Rémi Calvel, is now his assistant. Romain Ternel, another ex-Toulouse player, is now taking care of the U19 team.
What the numbers say
11 – that is how many nationalities are represented in the roster this season. You have players from South America (Erwin Feuchtmann), Scandinavia (Fredric Pettersson), Austria (Tobias Wagner), Croatia (Luka Sokolic), two from Serbia (Nemanja Ilic and Milan Jovanovic) in the mix. The goal will be for them to speak the same handball language on the court.
Arrivals and departures
Arrivals (including former club): Fredric Pettersson (Montpellier Handball), Tobias Wagner (Fivers), Erwin Feuchtmann (Abanca Ademar Leon), Erik Balenciaga (Logrono La Rioja), Robin Cantegrel (Vardar)
Departures (including new club): Cesar de Almeida (BM Huesca), Sadou N’Tanzi (PSG, back from loan), Nori Benhalima (Grand Nancy Métropole Handball), Henrik Jakobsen (USAM Nîmes), Gaël Tribillon (Chartres Métropole Handball), Rémi Leventoux, Pierre Soudry
European League (3rd participation) :
Group Phase (1): 2020/21
Second qualifying round (1): 2014/15
Cup Winners’ Cup: Quarter-finals (1998/99)
French Cup: 1 title (1998)