The city of Budapest is ready to host once again a new edition of the Women’s EHF Final4, one of the most important event in the handball world. The next weekend, four teams will fight for the European champion title in the Papp Laszlo Sportarena but just one of them will compete for the first time. It is the Romanian roster, the CSM Bucuresti, who has arrived to this ultimate event after defeating the tough Russian Rostov Don, in a shocking quarter-final round. Spanish outstanding right wing Carmen Martin (Roquetas de Mar, 1988) has spoken with Handball-Planet before this upcoming challenge.
We’re a week away from Europe’s ultimate event, how do you feel right now and how does the team feel?
We are going through a good moment right now. The recent achievements of the team, like the Romanian title and the wins in the Champions League, have made us feel we are finally in the right path. Day by day, we are growing as a team and improving our level, so that makes me feel very happy.
The knockout against Rostov Don was really a surprise to many, mainly due to the undefeated streak they carried until the quarter finals. Was the preparation for this double battle special or different from others?
We were coming out from a tough and a competent group from the Main Round, and I think we took strength and spirit out from where there were none to do our best in both matches against Rostov. I think the key for the success was the analysis made by our staff, along with the motivation of each of the players had to play the Final4.
Were you also surprised by the power CSM Bucuresti showed in the quarter final round?
I think that rather than surprised we were more like, “Finally!” We felt that at last this group had shown that it could be united and perform at a high level.
Little by little, you became a building block for CSM Bucuresti. Do you feel that way? How do fans and media treat you?
I don’t really see myself as a building block, I just try to contribute with my experience and enthusiasm to help my team as much as I can. Fans and media here in Romania are really into women’s handball and handball in general. People make big efforts to attend our games. We’ve played on Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. more than once and the fans have always attended to support us and we’re grateful for that. Every game of the Romanian league is usually broadcasted by Digi Sport or Dolce Sport, which are two of the most representative sport TV channel in Romania.
After the bad streak you have gone through in recent years, when you’ve faced injuries, your departure from Krim, your short stay in the DHF (Spanish league)… You’re now here, ready to play EHF Final4 semi-finals and nominated to the European All-Star. Is this the best moment of your career?
I think I have been very regular throughout my entire career, except from the times when I have been injured. When I played for Itxako, I also had the opportunity to play the EHF Champions League final, before the Final4 existed. So that’s why I can’t really say whether this is my best moment… but it is obvious that it is the best one for the team: we have just won the Romanian league, we will fight to win the Romanian Cup and we are qualified to the Final4.
Now focused on Budapest, you know that you are the second Spanish to compete in such an important date. Is this something special for you?
To be the second one after the great Begoña Fernández, my ‘Bego’, is a big honour for me indeed. Actually, I would have loved to have met another Spanish teammate there. But it is something special for me to participate in this EHF Final 4 as it is the first time of CSM Bucuresti in the competition.
You are going to face Vardar in the semi-finals. The Macedonian team is the only one, along with the reigning champion Buducnost, who has participated in the three editions of the Final4. Which one do you think is their main weapon?
I think they have a lot of weapons. They are physically very strong, and their play has become faster and more organized since the arrival of David Davis as a coach.
You have played against them twice, they have won both battles. Although is true the first game they won just by one goal. Which are the keys to knock them out?
I can’t tell you the keys… [She laughs]. I just can say that our team is moving forward everyday and that we will really try to get the victory.
If you could bench one of Vardar’s players, who would it be?
I consider that a team is made of several players and that even if someone’s missing the rest of the team can fight anyway, but if I have to name a player… I would say Andrea Penezic. I have had the opportunity to play beside her, I know how she works and how she prepares herself for the big events. She is a winner on the court, and without a doubt she is a great player.
What are the expectations like in Romania, and specially in Bucharest, due to this EHF Final4 appearance from CSM Bucuresti? What would you say to the fans and the people who are supporting you?
There’s too much expectation. We have received lots of messages; people are cheering us up from everywhere in Romania, not just from fans but also from clubs and attendants in general. The entire country is happy and proud of watching a Romanian team playing the most important club’s competition. I just have to thank our supporters and say that even if we are rookies in the competition, we are not going to give up easily.
For you, the two teams that will play the final are… I hope one of them is mine [She laughs]. Györi and Buducnost are going to play a very tough game, but I think the Hungarians have a really complete roster this season and that they are in a very good physically form.