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10.02.2012, 18:51
Serbia’s success needs an infrastructure
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Coach Vukovic warns against complacency after EHF EURO 2012
 

Serbia’s success needs an infrastructure

Serbia won its first handball medal as an independent nation in the EHF EURO 2012 and snatched the silver medal to end a barren 11-year period. The former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (comprised of Serbia and Montenegro) finished third all the way back in 2001 at the IHF World Championship.

Somewhat against the odds, Serbia reached the final and were actually beaten by a classy Denmark who the host nation had defeated in the Preliminary Round, showing they would be a tough nut to crack in front of frenetic home fans in Belgrade.

In an exclusive interview with eurohandball.com just days after the spectacular tournament had ended, Serbia’s coach Veselin Vukovic said repeating the success would be a tall order for the Serbian team, including several veterans.

“It will be very difficult to emulate this achievement in the near future because several key players in this generation have peaked in this tournament,” Vukovic said.

“On one hand, it wouldn’t make sense to change much ahead of the Olympic qualifiers scheduled for April. On the other hand, if we qualify, the 2012 Games in London and next year’s World Championship in Spain are excellent opportunities to inject fresh blood into the side and create a solid platform for the future,” he added.

In order to reach their maiden Olympics, Serbia must clinch one of the top two spots in the qualifying tournament in Spain, where they face the host nation, Poland and Algeria. Vukovic, who won the 1984 Olympic gold medal with the former SFR Yugoslavia, fancied his team’s chances of reaching their second major tournament in 2012.

“The competition in the European section of international handball is so fierce that it’s easier to win a medal in the Olympics than in EHF EURO or the World Championship, but qualifying for the Olympic Games is always a big task. Now that we are halfway there, we have a good chance of winning a berth for the London Games,” he said. 

The trophy-laden coach then struck a note of caution against complacency with Serbia’s EHF EURO 2012 success, having pointed out it would remain a flash in the pan unless a more solid basis is built in the country to ensure long-term results.

“In order to stay among the top handball nations we need to improve our infrastructure, and this means Serbia’s clubs must get better and make a bigger impact in Europe. One of the reasons the Macedonian team did so well at EHF EURO 2012 is that they have two strong clubs by Balkan standards, one of which is playing well in the VELUX EHF Champions League and the other in the regional SEHA league,” Vukovic underscored.

“The vast majority of their national team players come from these two clubs, while we had a squad of 20 players coming from 18 clubs in 11 different countries and blending so many contrasts into a unit is never an easy task. Our priority is to entice sponsors to invest in Serbian clubs so that we can have a solid base to build on and keep young talents in the country for as long as possible,” he pointed out.

“This, in turn, means that handball needs to make its way into Serbia’s secondary schools and be represented in physical education as much as the more popular team sports such as football and basketball. Progress cannot start with the clubs because we need to start nurturing our prospects before they get into their teens,” Vukovic said in conclusion. 


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic
 
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