Eduarda Amorim feels that she is getting back to her level of play from before her long injury break in the 2014-15 season.
However, that’s is not enough for the Brazilian international who earns her living in Hungary’s top handball club – Gyor. At the age of 30, she feels that she still can be better, as she reveals in this exclusive interview with stregspiller.com.
This upcoming Friday, she expects to be needing all her skills, when Gyor face CSM Bucuresti in a repeat match of last season´s Champions League final.
By Peter Bruun
“I feel I am beginning to be back at the level I had before I got injured, but I still feel I can improve.
“You might say that I am relatively old for a handball player, but even though I am 30, I still feel I can better myself, and I want to improve all the time and develop further as a handball player.”
The words come from Eduarda Amorim – or “Duda”, as she is called by people around her. Last Saturday, when her team Gyor Audi ETO KC made a stunning comeback in the very last minutes of their Champions League road game against Rostov-Don, she showed a performance, indicating that she is very close to being the “old” Amorim from before a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her knee put her out of action for a year.
With seven goals, she made an important contribution to Gyor´s 28:27 win. Throughout the match, the Hungarian crew was trailing most of the time in Southern Russia.
Rostov were leading by three goals late in the game, but Gyor managed to turn the table and record a 28:27 victory.
“I think part of the explanation was that we kept believing in our concept and what we were doing on the court was right.
“We had better nerves towards the end, of course, and this, combined with our experience as a team, did the trick.
“However, it is not the kind of game we want to play. We prefer to be much more in control and be more consistent, especially in defense,” says Eduarda Amorim who is carrying some extra responsibility in Gyor, as long as her colleague on the left back position, Zsuzsanna Tomori, is out with an injury.
“In Gyor we play as a team, and we are good at helping each other, so I do not feel that extra responsibility as a burden.
“I hope Zsuzsanna will be back soon to help us again, although I cannot say how soon, as she had to undergo another small surgery for some minor injury which occurred during her rehabilitation,” explains Amorim who knows better than most, what Tomori is going through right now. It is the same kind of injury, which sidelined her for nearly two years.
“I know exactly how she feels, especially about that additional injury.
“The same thing happened to me, as I was close to making my comeback. It is just about the worst thing that can happen at this point – you feel you are almost ready to enter the court again, and then you get another setback. That’s just terrible”, she recalls.
Award was an encouragement
Shortly after her return to the handball court, she was awarded Women´s World Handball Player of the Year by the International Handball Federation.
“Of course, it always is a great honor to get an award like that, but I am not afraid to admit that it came as an extra encouragement to me after all I had been through at the time – and, of course, it was also a recognition of my teammates and everyone else around the team. Without these people I would not be able to achieve what I do,” says Eduarda Amorim who was part of Brazil’s greatest handball triumph before she got injured.
In December 2013, Brazil stunned the world of handball winning the Women´s World Championship in Serbia.
But the handball powerhouse from South American has not been able to live up to the elevated expectations since then. The World Championship 2015 in Denmark ended with an early exit, and at the Olympics in Rio this summer the crew did not make it to the final round on home ground – was the victory in Serbia 2013 a once in a lifetime success for Brazil?
“Yes, I am afraid it was.
“We do not have that many good players in Brazil. In 2013, everything went the right way for us, and everything functioned in our team, but you cannot expect us to be strong enough or consistent enough to repeat such performance often.
“We need some kind of a fresh start, I think.
“Maybe our Danish coach Morten Soubak will be capable of executing a fresh start. But his contract is expiring this December, and it will be up to the president (of the Brazilian Handball Federation, ed.) to decide if he is getting a chance to continue.
“Anyway, Morten Soubak shares my opinion – that more Brazilian players have to go to Europe and play. It is the only way for them to develop and make our national team stronger, eventually.
“If all of this happens, I may have a chance to win another medal with Brazil – be it at a World Championship or the next Olympics!” she says.
A tough start in Europe
Amorim has played in Europe for 12 years now. She came to Macedonia, at the age of 18 already, to play for Kometal Skopje.
“Of course, it was a big change to come to a different part of the world and experiencing a completely different culture, especially at such a young age.
“It was also a rather tough start.
“I would not exactly say that people were against foreign players at the time, but as a foreigner, you had to prove yourself more than the local players – and that was tough.
“Fortunately, I got a lot of help from my sister (Eduarda´s three-years older sister Ana, also played for Kometal at the time, as well as for the Brazilian national team, ed.). Family means everything in such situations,” she says.
As is known by now, she made it through the rough times and stayed in Europe, where she moved on to Gyor after five years in the Macedonian capital. Now, she is her eighth season with the Hungarian powerhouse, having won the Women´s Champions League in 2013 and 2014 – so she must feel really well at the club?
“I most certainly do. It is a great club where everything functions in and around the organization.
“The club has always been able to attract good players, so we have been able to maintain our level, and on top of everything, we have really great fans, so – yes – I am obviously content,” she says.
A bitter pill to swallow
Eduarda Amorim was definitely not content late in the afternoon on May 8th of this year, and neither were any of her teammates. Gyor had just lost the Champions League final to the Romanian Champions League debutants, CSM Bucuresti, 29:26 following over time and a penalty shoot-out, at Papp Lászlo Arena in Budapest.
“Of course, this was a bitter pill to swallow – and even more so, because the defeat was so difficult for us to comprehend.
“Normally, you can understand why you lose a match. Normally, you can say: ´Okay, we did not play well enough´, or: ´This or that went wrong.´
“In this case, however, we could not point our finger at anything.
“We felt we had played well and stuck to our tactics, and there were no internal problems in the team.
“All of this made this defeat so much harder to accept,” she explains.
“This disappointment has made us so much more determined to take the trophy back this season, and I think we have a very good chance of doing just that.
“Last Champions League season, we were much more insecure at the start, as we had many new players – so we were a bit in doubt where we actually stood.
“This year, the team clicks much better, and we feel that we are a stronger team. I think we will benefit from this development throughout the year,” she believes.
Difficult revenge match coming up
With four points in their first two group matches, Gyor are already sure to proceed to the main round from Group C of the Champions League – a group which people have named the “Group of Death”, a “Killer Group”, the strongest group in the history of Women´s Champions League ever and many other things.
No wonder, considering that the group includes the clubs of Gyor, Rostov-Don, CSM and FC Midtjylland.
“I absolutely have the same opinion as all these people who see this group as the strongest ever.
“At least, I cannot recall any Champions League group that has been as strong in recent history. Many people tend to see Midtjylland as considerably weaker squad than the rest of the teams, but I think those who do are reading the Danish team wrong,” says Amorim who sees the strong competition as an advantage to her team.
“I think it is good for us to have these tough matches from the start. It sharpens us, and we know we will have to be able to beat them all anyway, if we want to win the Champions League – and we will”, she says.
While Gyor´s 31:19 victory at home against Midtjylland came expected, their 28:27 win in Russia against Rostov-Don was a bit of a surprise. On Friday, a road game against CSM awaits Amorim and her teammates.
The game is labeled the revenge match, the contest that Gyor have been waiting for ever since the Champions League final on May 8 of this year.
CSM, in turn, is recovering from a sensational 24:21 defeat in Denmark against Midtjylland.
“I was not that surprised by the result. As I said, I think some people are reading Midtjylland wrong; actually, they have some very good, internationally experienced players.
“However, I am not sure the result will be an advantage for us. To the contrary – I am certain that CSM will be extremely eager to avenge this particular disappointment in a hurry, and we will have to be at 120 per cent to get another win.
“We want revenge for the loss in the FINAl4 so much – we will be ready”, she promises.
Gyor – Final destination?
As she mentioned, Amorim is feeling quite well in Gyor – seven and a half years with the club are indicative of it. So, has she found her final destination in Hungary´s sixth largest city?
“Hmm, we will have to see.
“After this season, I have two more years left per my contract. My contract will expire one year before the next Olympics.
“At that time, I will have to decide about my future – if I want to stay with Gyor or if I need some change, and – maybe – if I am going to stay in Europe or go back to Brazil.
“However, all of it is in the future. Right now, it is all about improving and winning the Champions League with Gyor,” says Eduarda Amorim with one of those big smiles that are so characteristic of her – off the court. On the pitch, her opponents should have no doubts that they are up against one of the most competitive player’s around, who wants to win every time.