20221004 AGUAS BEL 3
EHF European League

Little experience but great ambition

EHF / Tiago Nogueira

After an incredible Qualification Phase, where they eliminated Riihimaen Cocks and Belenenses, Águas Santas will make their debut in the group stage of the EHF European League. This club full of tradition in Portuguese handball will surely have an arena full of fans to lend support in these tough European matches.

This season they signed several players from other Portuguese teams, let others go and will trust Ricardo Moreira's strategy to shine even more. Águas Santas are in Group D with the powerful Füchse Berlin, Bidasoa, Aarhus, Eurofarm Pelister and Ukrainian team HC Motor. Thus, they will face strong opponents with a lot of European experience, but the team led by Ricardo Moreira also has strengths and great ambition.

Main facts

  • qualified for the group phase by beating Finnish side Riihimaen Cocks and Belenenses in the qualification phase
  • Águas Santas took fifth place in the Portuguese Championship last season
  • the Portuguese side kept their head coach, Ricardo Moreira, but there were many changes in the squad
  • Águas Santas only have Portuguese players in the squad with an average age of 22.5 years old
  • the biggest signing for this season was Afonso Lima, ADA Maia’s centre back last season
  • coach Ricardo Moreira changed the mindset of the club with his experience at the highest level as a player

Most important question: Will such a young team be up to this European challenge?

Águas Santas only have Portuguese players and 11 athletes are under 23 years old. All this youth has pros and cons. The irreverence of facing any opponent without fear, but also the lack of experience for the big moments of the game when the pressure increases. It is up to Ricardo Moreira to put all these elements in the best possible shape. And the Portuguese coach is motivated and only thinks about competing.

“Our main goal is to compete at a high level and to provide our young players that opportunity as well,” Ricardo said.

The team captain Francisco Fontes acknowledges that the biggest motivation is to be able to “compete and match the high level of the strong teams present in this competition.”

Under the spotlight: Afonso Lima

Afonso Lima is a very smart player. The 25-year-old centre back had a great season last year with ADA Maia, and played a key role in helping that club reach a historic sixth-place finish. He has a great mindset and has already demonstrated that he is a fundamental pillar of Ricardo Moreira's strategy.

Lima is also a very versatile player, with great vision and technique, particularly in 1 on 1 situations.

How they rate themselves

There are no doubts about the importance of playing in the EHF European League for this club and for the city. Ricardo Moreira, Águas Santas’ head coach, highlights that this competition “will give the club some visibility and we will make the fans and the people of our town very proud.” 

In turn, Francisco Fontes, the team captain, was asked how he would evaluate his team's chances. The answer was very objective and ambitious: “We are a team with little experience, but that will not stop us from disputing every match.”

Did you know?

In 2001/02 the Portuguese club participated for the first time in a European Competition, the Challenge Cup, where they were eliminated by the Danish side Skjern, who ended up winning the tournament.

What the numbers say

60 years. Águas Santas was founded in 1962 and this year celebrates its 60th anniversary.

Arrivals and departures

Arrivals: Afonso Lima (ADA Maia), João Furtado (ADA Maia), Diogo Ribeiro (ADA Maia), Pedro Cruz (Póvoa Andebol Clube), Gustavo Oliveira (FC Gaia) and Rui Baptista (ABC de Braga)

Departures: Rúben Ribeiro (Marítimo Madeira), André Sousa (FC Porto), Miguel Neves (IL Bergen), Tiago Sousa (Ademar Leon), António Campos (Póvoa Andebol Clube), Rafael Azevedo (Ginásio Clube de Santo Tirso), Vasco Santos (Póvoa Andebol Clube), Ricardo Rocha (SL Benfica), Pedro Seabra (Retired) and Ricardo Mourão (Retired)

Team captain: Francisco Fontes

Coach: Ricardo Moreira

Past achievements

National champion: -

National cup winner: 1 time

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