Nze Minko: “Energy, heart and courage make the difference”
“When you have been playing games every three days since the start of last season, with barely a few weeks of holidays, for sure you feel tired. But what is fatigue when you have got the chance to reach the EHF FINAL4 and, maybe, to win the Champions League?”
This is how Estelle Nze Minko put in a nutshell the reality of top-level handball players.
However, whether playing for Györi Audi ETO KC or Brest Bretagne Handball, everyone involved in the Match of the Week on Saturday (live on EHFTV at 16:00 CEST) will forget about the busy playing schedule, with the final weekend in Budapest in mind.
After the first leg in France last week, both sides are completely level: 21:21-
“To be honest, to be able to draw in such a tense atmosphere, against such a strong team, it looks like a good result. We never panicked, I think our team was really brave,” says Nze Minko, the Györ centre back who netted three times against the club from her native country.
Even though Györ last lost a Champions League game at home in 2015, they are not booking their ticket to Budepest yet. From their last six duels with Brest, Györ won just one – in the 2019/20 main round.
The other five duels ended in a draw, though Brest won on to beat Györ after a penalty shootout in the dramatic semi-final last season.
“Our two teams seem to be really close, with game plans that tend to cancel each other,” Nze Minko says.
“It is also interesting that most of these draws were tight scores, with great goalkeeper performances and a lot of defensive intensity.”
It won’t be much different when the teams meet again on Saturday in Hungary.
So, what will decide the MOTW, according to the Women’s EHF EURO 2020 MVP?
“I think that energy, heart, courage and determination will make the difference,” Nze Minko says.
“Both teams are on the same level. We know each other extremely well, so there will not be much of a surprise, handball-wise. But the winner will be the side that can put those extra 10% into their performance.”
For Nze Minko, revenge for that lost semi-final last year is not on her mind. The defeat has not been a motivation for the Hungarian five-time champions.
“Not at all. We have so many goals every season that you cannot focus on the past. We have moved on now,” the centre back says.
Both teams are on the same level. We know each other extremely well, so there will not be much of a surprise, handball-wise. But the winner will be the side that can put those extra 10% into their performance.
Nze Minko has never lost a single Champions League home game with Györ since her arrival in 2019.
“It’s all inconscient: You play in an arena where you train every day, where you score a lot of goals, and you get a lot of confidence.” Nze Minko explains.
“With your fans behind you as well, these are the little things that can make the difference at such a level.”
In their attempt to qualify for the EHF FINAL4 again, Györ certainly hope the little things will go their way against Brest on Saturday.