Sporting motivated ahead of Nexe clash
The EHF European League Men returns this week with round 3, and for Sporting CP there is a significant challenge ahead.
The Portuguese club travel to Croatia to face group C leaders RK Nexe, who won both matches so far.
“RK Nexe is one of the favorites to win our group. And we are going to play at their home, one of the most difficult arenas to play in all those present in the competition,” Spanish player Mamadou Gassama said, pointing out that Nexe lost just one home game last year.
“But we're going motivated, we've been training very hard and very well, we're going to Croatia very confident. We're going to fight for first place, one of our goals in the race as well,” he added.
The 29-year-old right wing believes Sporting “has no ceiling”.
“We can lose against any team and beat any team in this competition. We are a young team, we have to learn and grow as a group, and the most experienced ones are here for that. In a competition with great teams, some from the Champions League, our goal is to reach the EHF European League Finals. And from there, anything can happen,” Gassama added.
Spain at heart
Gassama brings passion to the game. In the last round of the European League, Sporting travelled to his former club, BM Granollers. Gassama spent more than a decade in Granollers before moving to Portugal in 2021.
“The fans applauded me in a special way, it was a big surprise. Despite the loss against them, I was very emotional about it. I left several friends there, I learned a lot,” said the right wing.
Granollers, he said, was critical to his development as a player and a person.
“Handball gave me life, if it weren't for handball, I don't know what would have become of me. In this sport they educated me as a player and as a person. And that I will keep forever,” he said, stressing that he would love “to return to the Spanish club and finish the career there”.
“They saw me go through good and bad. They saw me score goals in every way and miss goals in every way, but they always wanted me. They always supported me. They made me a different person and if I am where I am it is thanks to them,” Gassama added.
Life with the Lions
Not that Gassama regrets his move to the ‘Lions’.
“I came from a club where I had a great season, but I didn't stand out much in terms of goals scored. So, when I got an offer from Sporting CP for me it was a big surprise, I really like football and I knew this club perfectly, which is very big. I was really happy to come here,” he said.
Gassama said the environment at Sporting was positive and this helped give the team drive to achieve results.
“I feel really good with the players and the coaches, who have always given me a lot of confidence. And if you have the confidence of the coach, everything is easier. I can talk to him, he listens, and we always talk with the aim of improving,” highlighted Gassama.
Gassama said he believed he would be able to achieve his potential at Sporting – with the match in Nasice at 20:45 CET on Tuesday the next opportunity to show what he can do.
“I'm more about taking advantage of my physique, even more than technical quality and talent,” he concluded.