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29.02.2012, 17:50
Đonović relishing EHF Champions League Challenge
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Assistant coach of Budućnost talks about the EHF Champions League and German goalkeeper Clara Woltering.
 

Đonović relishing Champions League Challenge

With four wins in as many matches in the Main Round, Budućnost have already reached the semi finals of the EHF Champions League with two games remaining, and are looking forward the playing in the last four for the eighth time in the club’s history.

And in their last two matches at home against Metz and Oltchim, Budućnost need only secure two points to finish top of the group.

Barring surprises, Budućnost will play in the semi final against defending champions Larvik, currently second in the second group (behind Hungary's Györ), in a repeat of last year's semi finals when Larvik was better in both matches (25:20 at home, 27:24 in the Moraca hall).

ehfcl.com talks with the assistant coach of Budućnost, Vlatko Đonović, who is also the goalkeeping coach of Budućnost and Women's national team coach for Montenegro.Vlatko Đonović - 250

He is the only coach in Montenegro who has worked with the men's and women's national team, and with all age categories. He was part of the men's national team coaching staff at 2008 EHF EURO in Norway, when a Montenegrin team participated for the first time on a big international stage.

In addition, he was assistant coach in Women’s junior team of Montenegro when they secured bronze at the World Championships in Korea. He was part of coaching staff for the Women’s senior team at 2010 EHF EURO in Denmark and Norway (sixth place), at 2011 World Championships in Brazil (10th place) and at the Mediterranean Games in Pescara (bronze medal).

In the men's team, among others, he worked with Goran Stojanović, one of the best goalkeepers in the German Bundesliga and one of his charges, Marina Vukčević, was elected the best goalkeeper at the World Junior Championships in Korea.

ehfCL.com: Is Larvik really weaker than last season because of the departure of line player Heidi Loke (moved to Györ) and Gro Hammerseng and Olga Medvedeva (both pregnancy)?

Vlatko Đonović: At the World Cup in Brazil many people were saying that Norway is weaker, but that was disproved when they won the gold medal. Also, I think that with the departure of some leading players Larvik didn’t lose too much, because they got new leaders and "fresh blood" in some young but talented players. Larvik is playing a Norwegian system of handball which brought a lot of success during the last few years. If we can interfere with their system of play, then we have a chance to get into a final.

ehfCL.com: Can Budućnost, finally, get first final of CL in its history?

Vlatko Đonović: It is difficult to predict anything, because in the semi final we will play the best teams in Europe.

ehfCL.com: Although you have stronger opponents, Budućnost has played better in the Main Round than in the Group Phase. Is it true the lot of credit for this belongs to the German goalkeeper Clara Woltering?

Vlatko Đonović: Certainly, Clara is one of those who deserves merit for such good results, but she wouldn’t be so good without a good defence in front of her. A good defence gives the opportunity for every goalkeeper to be their best.

ehfCL.com: In the first four games of Main Round, Woltering has a better average of saves per game (14), than in the first stage of the competition (11.4). Is that because she has adapted better to the new environment and new way of working, or she simply lifted her form?

Vlatko Đonović: It’s a little of everything. She is playing for the first time outside Germany and she needed a period of time to adapt to the new environment. To be honest, I was afraid that she would need more time to adapt. Upon arrival in Budućnost she faced a much different and harder training regime than she had with her previous club (Bayer Leverkusen). Also, the way we prepare for games was something new for her. As a hard worker, I think she will improve more.

ehfCL.com: What type of goalkeeper is Clara? How well do you work together?

Vlatko Đonović: Clara belongs to the German school of handball with all its characteristics which we are improving with elements of the Yugoslav handball school. I think the best goalkeepers in men's and women's handball are those who apply the combined techniques. She is very quick, nimble with a fantastic reflex. I will not mention her defects! Anyway, it’s a pleasure to work with her because she is full of enthusiasm and desire to improve.

ehfCL.com: Is her value on the European market higher now than when she came to Budućnost?

Vlatko Đonović: When she came to the Budućnost, she told me that she wanted to prove herself in the Champions League, because she had never been in a team who played CL. I think she succeeded in that, and she is already interesting many clubs.

ehfCL.com: Clara has been in goal in virtually all matches in the Main Round. Is the lack of game time a problem for the other goalkeepers in the team, Marina Vukčević and Sonja Barjaktarović, especially for the Olympic games qualifying tournament in May? Will they get more chances in the remaining two matches?

Vlatko Đonović: It’s true that a lack of matches affects a goalkeeper’s form, including Sonja and Marina. It’s a perennial problem that our team does not have adequate domestic opponents in the championship - and this year in the Regional League - in order to keep the goalkeepers’ form. In training they are very valuable and dedicated to the work, and in the last game against Krim Sonja Barjaktarović showed that she has some great form at the moment. Theoretically we have not yet secured first place in the group, and the priority of the club is the best place in the Champions League.

ehfCL.com: Your have been working in Budućnost for almost four years now. Your contract is valid until the end of this season. What are your future plans, are you staying with Budućnost?

Vlatko Đonović: We are facing very important games and all my attention is focused on them so that we are ready. My wish for this season is to get the best ever result in CL with Budućnost. After that, there will be time for discussion about my contract.


TEXT: Saša Jončić
 
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