Champions League Men | 20 Aug 2014
Orenburg aims to return on top
After five European finals in last five seasons, and three titles (ETTU Cup 2010, MECL 2012 and 2013) on its account, Fakel Gazproma Orenburg doesn’t need to say what its goal is going to be in the next edition which starts on September 5th. They didn`t r
After five European finals in last five seasons, and three titles (ETTU Cup 2010, MECL 2012 and 2013) on its account, Fakel Gazproma Orenburg doesn’t need to say what its goal is going to be in the next edition which starts on September 5th. They didn`t reached their aim in previous season, being unexpectedly defeated by French AS Pontoise Cergy, and that is the reason why they are now so motivated. Everyone in the club believes that the same victorious trio, Vladimir SAMSONOV, Dimitrij OVTCHAROV and Alexey SMIRNOV, is able to provide third MECL title to Orenburg.
As no. 1 seed and main candidate for the crown, Russian team is again posted in Group A, this time alongside reigning champion AS Pontoise Cergy (France, no. 6 seed), newcomer Olimpia-Unia Grudziadz (Poland, 12) and Roskilde Bordtennis BTK61 (Denmark, 13) which returns on the main European club`s stage. Two out of four teams from each of four groups will reach quarter final, whilst third placed will continue in ETTU Cup.
“I think it’s positive that there will be a normal number of participants in this season – 16 teams. It means each team will play the same number of matches at the group stage - Valeriy SALABAEV, head coach of Fakel Gazproma said -. Two teams represent Poland in the competition and it shows the rise of table tennis in this country. We’ll have to compete with the reigning winner – French AS Pontoise Cergy TT, the team we lost the final match against”.
Orenburg`s Vice-President Victor ANDREEV, chief coach of Fakel Gazproma, stressed that his side has the hardest possible company in the first stage: “Our group is the strongest according to the draw. The staff to the Polish club is impressive; it’s represented by Japanese, a naturalized Chinese and a Taiwanese players. World superstar Michael MAZE is the leader of the Danish club. The French club kept the same champion staff. We expect to have a very tense fight for the two places to reach the play-off. We are aimed at winning in our group and coming out on top”.
Orenburg is full of experience and trophies, even in the individual competition. They have actual European champion and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Dimitrij OVTCHAROV, three times single`s gold medalist from ECH and 1997 World`s vice-champion Vladimir SAMSONOV, and former Euro Top 12 winner Alexey SMIRNOV. All they gained more than 20 MECL titles in total from deferent clubs.