In the second leg of their European League quarter-final against Neptunes de Nantes next Sunday, the BVB women's handball team will do everything they can to turn the tie around and reach the Final Four following a 28-19 first-leg defeat in France. Zoë Sprengers talks in an interview about the game in France, the sporting situation and her personal circumstances.
Sunday's game away to a strong Nantes team unfortunately ended in defeat. How would you evaluate the game?
"I think we fought hard as a team. We were better than in the last Bundesliga games. But we struggled to find our flow in attack and when we did manage to play our way through them, we were wasteful in front of goal. We gave the ball away too often and that makes it hard to win. We also made mistakes in defence and lost individual duels. Nantes are a very strong team and unfortunately we didn't do enough. And of course it doesn't help that Alina Grijseels and Meret Ossenkopp are absent. But there is still a second leg to play."
What mentality are you going into Sunday's game with?
"I think we know what we have to change. We will go out there and give it everything we've got. With Alina's return, we are more dangerous in attack and have more options. Others can then also get a rest, meaning we can have everyone going at full steam in the last few minutes. In any case, the objective is to deliver an improved performance, keep our heads up and look ahead. I don't know if we'll win by ten goals in the end. But I know that we will stand together as a team and give 200 percent."
Things haven't been going so well recently. What makes you optimistic that the team can turn things around after four straight competitive defeats?
"I know that we've lost our last few games and haven't been playing that well. But we've shown what we're capable of, against Besançon, for example. We have also played much better in the Bundesliga. Confidence plays a big role and we've been lacking that a bit lately. But confidence is really important, especially when we want to play such an aggressive style of defence, and everyone has to do their job. We are working hard on that in training."
You've now been in Dortmund for around nine months. How do you think things have gone for you on a sporting level?
"At the beginning, I was able to pick up a lot of confidence right away and was very happy about my performances and the playing time I was getting. In the last three or four games, my form hasn't been so good. That's why I'm training even harder and now things are going in the right direction again. I'm happy that I was able to help the team in defence and also in the half space. I hope now that I can stand higher up the court in both regular and counter-attacks. I know I am capable of doing that better."
What expectations do you have for the rest of the season?
"That we will finish at least third in the league. There is no shame in losing out to Bietigheim. It's difficult going away to Thüringer HC, but we have to win all the other games. That won't be easy, because we still have some strong opponents to come. But if we are 100 percent focused and go all out, we will win games like we did in Metzingen and against Blomberg. To reach the Final Four in the European League will be difficult with a nine-goal deficit. But we have to deliver a better performance than in the first leg.''
How do you like living in the city of Dortmund?
"I feel very at home! I really like the girls and the club. Since this year, I've also been living here in Dortmund with my boyfriend. My family also only live three hours from here and it's nice to know that they're not so far away. I'm very happy about my decision to come here, Dortmund is also a very nice city. There is a lot to do here and there are nice day trip destinations nearby. Everything has come together really nicely."
Tickets for the quarter-final second leg against Neptunes de Nantes in the EHF European League (Sunday 26 March, 16:00 CET) are available in the BVB online ticket shop.