At the dawn of the start of the qualifiers, at Pont-de-Chéruy on Sunday 24 April 2022 (3:30 p.m.), the STB captain easily endorses the favorite’s status and attendant pressure. “We all came here to go to Pro B,” the thirty-year-old recalls.
Has the atmosphere changed when it comes to play-offs?
Hugo Sohard: “Barely. You know you have a limited number of matches left to play, and you know that if you lose, you’re going home. We’re all a little more focused, even if it’s been a long time since we went to these playoffs, because we knew the first place is in the second stage. It’s no longer available. In heads, we’re all ready for it.”
What inspires your first opponent, the Pont de Cheroy?
“It is a team that plays well with its energy. Perhaps it is not the most talented in the class but a team of young people offers something defensive with the coach (Dunia Issa) who applied a certain philosophy of play, everyone sticks to it and this gives a coherent whole.”
“I wouldn’t mind facing Kane.”
Given the two engagements in the first phase (+18 and +21), does this seem a relatively lenient introduction?
“It’s a result of playing playoffs at 16, you meet teams who aren’t playing on promotion and who are really happy to be there. Then, you play against a liberal team, and there’s not necessarily any pressure. If they win, that’s a feat, and if they lose, It wouldn’t be a big deal. Pay attention to that, be serious, respect them. Simply do the work.”
What do you think about half of the match schedule?
“A lot of people have told me that. I’m told, ‘That’s fine, you don’t have a Cain, or such and such. In the end, I don’t care a bit.’ We’re going to face him or not. We’re more in the idea of telling ourselves: ‘No matter who’s in our way, we’re going to have to get rid of him. We’ve already beaten all the teams this season, except Lyon. The only thing is that I wouldn’t have faced Kane in the quarter-finals.’ Derby In the qualifiers, I think it will be something very special, in an atmosphere of fire. When you are a player, it is also what makes you shake.”
Can you still find Caennais in the final?
“Yeah, yeah, that’s for sure. If they can go that far. Because we’ll be there. (Malignant smile)”
It makes a lot of STB favorite in these qualifiers. And you?
“I hear that. Yeah, yeah, we’re the favourites, because there’s a great team on paper, because we have a good second stage, because we beat Poitiers twice… well. If people want to put us down as favorites, or underdogs, I don’t really care. I I focus on the team. Anyway, we’ve had a goal behind us since the start of the season, more so since Val (Pegutti) arrived. It’s not new.”
“In qualifying, there will be no relaxation”
Wouldn’t winning matches be a failure?
“Obviously. For the club for the team. The leaders have put in the means for that, the coach is there for that, and we all came to STB for that. Our goal is not to do good playoffs, like some teams, but to go all the way to the end. We are all obsessed with him, and we all have What we need for it. Then, do not guarantee anything. If you have two or three wounded men, that immediately changes the situation. But there, in the present state of affairs, yes, it will be clear that there will be a failure not to ascend. »
How do you feel about your team?
“Over the season, it took time to fit in, to find a dynamic. There were a lot of ups and downs, headaches, because the team is like that: there is talent, character, experience. In the end, when we had to roll up our sleeves in the big games, I think That we responded. In the second stage, we only relaxed against Ruel, because that was not the case during the defeats in Angers and La Rochelle. In the qualifiers, there will be no relaxation. What is also interesting is that we were always able to refill after the defeat. It is important considering Play-offs, where we will not necessarily be 8-0 (8 wins, 0 defeats). I have 100% confidence in the team and the staff. We are all united around the same goal.”
‘I don’t plan to go beyond June 12th’
Could the outcome of these playoffs affect your future, knowing you’ll have one year left of the contract no matter what?
“Honestly, at the moment, I’m not planning beyond June 12 (the date of the possible third match of the final). I’m not going to mess with my head with that. Whether we go up or not, we’ll have a frank discussion with Rudy (Sevi, co-chair of STB), as we always did at the end of Every season. On paper, my future is at St. Thomas. But if the club wants to move to another profile, or if I want something else, we’ll discuss it. I came here for a goal, the best thing is to complete it and carry on with it. But staying in N1 won’t It is necessarily a handicap for me. If I wanted, I could have gone back to Pro B at the end of my first year (2019-2020).”
Anyway, did you finish the season much better than you started?
“Clearly. Like a team, the crew and I took time to find my spot. At first, it was on the bench, a role which, without being pretentious, isn’t what makes me like it. My position was then changed to position 2. It took It’s me and Umaru (Syla) to learn to play together, to get used to not having the keys to the truck, playing too little, not having too many balloons. It took a while, but we were able to do it. And then we won’t lie to each other, but the stage The first… Since arriving in St. Thomas, I have only known this first stage, as the sequel has been canceled every time due to Covid. At some point, without disrespecting certain opponents, it is one of the least motivated to face them. The second stage, the qualifiers, It pushes you to raise your level.”