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28.05.2012, 23:13
Julija Nikolic: “Step by step”
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FYR Macedonia is only a few steps away from one of the biggest sensations of recent years: earning an EHF EURO berth.
 

Julija Nikolic: “Step by step”

With her help FYR Macedonia won a very important game against France in the third qualifying round for the EHF EURO 2012 in the Netherlands. Equally good in defence and attack, universal player Julia Nikolic has returned from "national team retirement" and could be one of the keys to winning the last two games against Lithuania and Turkey. 

After four years, FYR Macedonia is optimistic that it will secure a place among the best 16 teams in Europe. The team needs to win both of its last two games. 

Nikolic scored 17 goals in total in the last two games against France, nine of them in Skopje in a surprising victory against world vice champion. After club success with Arvor 29 in France, including the champions' title, Nikolic hopes that she will also celebrate with the national team.

It may be easier for Nikolic because rivals will "keep an eye" on her, and will give more space for other backs like Bajramovska, Crvenkovska and Elena Gjorgjievska.

ehf-euro.com: Lithuania is the first of two important matches for FYR Macedonia as it seeks to secure an EHF EURO berth in Netherlands. Are you well prepared for this "hot" tour in Lithuania?

Julija Nikolic: We're well prepared. We had a training camp in Dojran, worked well, analyzed the opponent, recognized our weaknesses and tried to remove errors. I think we’ll be fully ready for both games, though now we’re paying more attention to Lithuania, because for both games we prepare separately. We go step by step.

ehf-euro.com: The results of FYR Macedonia have been varied, losing to Turkey, but beating France. What’s the mood in the squad?

Julija Nikolic: Anyone can have a bad day. I think the match with Turkey should just be forgotten, and we should look forward to the next challenges. And that game versus France should also be forgotten, because now our upcoming matches are against other opponents, with other ways of playing, from other handball schools. We certainly have enough motivation for the next games. 

To be part of the EHF EURO is a great satisfaction for everyone. For us athletes, it is important to play in such big competitions. Not only because of national pride, but also because of the player’s own career. Therefore I say that we are motivated and optimistic.

ehf-euro.com: How well do you know your opponent, because you didn't play in the first round in Skopje, when FYR Macedonia easily beat Lithuania?

Julija Nikolic: I know two players from Lithuania, who play in the French championship. Both of their back positions, central and left side, will be the most dangerous for us. We should pay lots of attention to these players.

ehf-euro.com: You are chasing two wins to take you to the EHF EURO. Is there pressure on the players to win those games, because the public awaits the return to the European handball cream?

Julija Nikolic: These matches mean a lot to us, not only as players and a team, but generally for female handball in FYR Macedonia. There is pressure at every game, but perhaps these two matches carry more pressure. We try not to think about pressure, and only of the game. This is the best way forward.

ehf-euro.com: The opponenets fear you for your shots and the ability to play equally well in attack and defence. What will be your focus in Lithuania?

Julija Nikolic: The team has many players that can solve all situations. It’s not important how I play because team success is more important than anything else. Good defence brings easier chances to get into a shooting situation, and will be a key factor. 

ehf-euro.com: With Arvor 29 you're already champion of France, and this season, reaching the EHF EURO would be the icing on the cake. What advice will you give to your team-mates for the next two matches?.

Julija Nikolic: I’m very happy about the club success. This was achieved by mutual trust and maximum support. I also told this to the girls. That is the way to succeed. Primarily we need to believe in ourselves, in our strength and desire to get to the EHF EURO. 

ehf-euro.com: FYR Macedonia has already made a "generation change", and most of the current players have only come in during the last two or three seasons. Do they have the strength to reach EHF EURO 2012? 

Julija Nikolic: It doesn’t matter that we haven't "old" players from the past. These young, but already experienced players are already mature enough for this European tournament. The motivation we have… the strength we  know… and it only remains for us to show our good shape. I believe that, even with Lithuania, we’ll show that we know what we want.

ehf-euro.com: That answer seemed optimistic and full of spirit. And what are your chances for the Netherlands, among the 16 best in Europe?

Julija Nikolic: Going step by step. I think we have great chances to secure an EHF EURO place, and there you will see...

Further Information

Find more information on the Women's EHF EURO 2012 Qualification HERE.

View more detailed information on the event on the Official EHF EURO 2012 Website.
http://www.facebook.com/EHFEUROWomen


TEXT: Goran Antevski
 
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