Eurohandball.com talks to the coach of Oltchim Valcea. Ivica Rimanic worked in Norwegian handball for 16 years. As coach of Byasen and Nordstrand he played several matches against Larvik and this will be the first opponent of Oltchim. Rimanic was also the coach of Podravka Vegeta, so he starts with significant advantage.
Eurohandball.com: What do you feel like Romania? Are you satisfied with the club and the working environment?
Ivica Rimanic: I’m positively surprised with all the things going on in Romania – especially in handball and in Oltchim. My club is very ambitious, well organised. The only real pity is that we lost our best player from last year, Gilca. She went to Rulmentul-Brasov, which is a big blow for us.
We all have a great working environment. With this management and with some more reinforcements we will play a very significant role in European handball.
Eurohandball.com: Oltchim will play against Larvik, Lada and Podravka in Group C. You worked in Norway many years, so you know Larvik well.
Ivica Rimanic: I worked Norwegian handball 16 years. I worked for women’s clubs (Byasen and Nordstrand) and men’s clubs (Stavanger and Fyllingen) too. I know Larvik very well. Their main advantage is their collective strength and they have the same coach since many years, Karl Erik Bohn.
They have a systematic team play with one of the best counterattacks in the CL. Also Larvik have a great defence led by the “forever young” Rantala and the excellent Tonje Larsen, who is most likely the best Norwegian player. They also have great wings, Mette Johansen and Riegelhuth. This year they also signed a good line player, Loeke.
I think Larvik are stronger then last season… To defeat Larvik we have to be in top form and the important thing will be to stop their quick game.
Eurohandball.com: You were coach of Podravka. Since you were born Croatian, you are familiar with the team of Zdravko Zovko too.
Ivica Rimanic: I worked in Podravka 10 years ago. Those were nice days, although there are still some negative things from that time.
Podravka in the past had big problems in finding a good coach and top quality players.
Since Zovko took over the team everything changed. Today Podravka play much faster than before. Also they have many different defensive formations now. Their advantage is that Zovko is also the coach of the Croatian national team, so majority of the Podravka players are working with him all the time. For sure, Podravka will be tough opponent this season.
Eurohandball.com: And what about Lada Togliatti?
Ivica Rimanic: Lada Togliatti were CL semi-finalists last year and Russian champions. I think we don’t need to say more than that.
For me, Lada are favourites of the group. When you have players such as Postnova and Bliznova in your team, you are not only favourites for the first position in the group, but also among those for the CL title.
We defeated Lada at a tournament in Dunaújváros in the preparation period. That doesn’t mean anything because Lada did not play with their full squad. For sure: to defeat Lada you have to give more then 100%.
Eurohandball.com: After three months working for Oltchim you must know the team by now. What do you expect this CL season?
Ivica Rimanic: I must say that Oltchim are weaker respect to last season. We will miss a top quality line player and also we have two injured players from the starting line-up, Bese and Ada Nechita.
Nevertheless, we will not surrender. My team believes we can play an important role in our group. Also, we have two Hungarian reinforcements, back player Szűcs and line player Borbás. We still need time to get to know each other, but I’m convinced that very soon we will be ready to play against any team. We have high aims.
Eurohandball.com: Based on your great handball experience, which teams do you think are favourites for the CL title this season?
Ivica Rimanic: Taking all factors into account, I believe that both Russian teams belong to the top. Then I would mention my former club Hypo, Győr, FCK, Viborg, and maybe one team from group C…
TEXT: Ivan Ambros