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19.11.2012, 19:24
Vintage Karabatić back to business as usual
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Nicola Karabatić back on form to inspire Montpellier's first victory
 

Vintage Karabatić back to business as usual

Thronged by children craving to get autographs and take photos with one of the world’s most distinguished handball players, French centre back Nikola Karabatić must have felt a bit dizzy from the attention he got after masterminding Montpellier’s first win in this season’s Champions League on Sunday.

The French title holders ground out a 32:29 away win over Partizan Belgrade in Serbia’s southern city of Niš, after Karabatić scored five goals and dished out a barrage of assists to his team mates.

The result got Montpellier Agglomeration, who managed just one draw and three defeats in their opening four games, back on track to finish in the top four of a fiercely competitive group and reach the last 16.

"I believe will stil have a fighting chance of getting through the group stage but it’s going to be tough because we had a poor start, lost to Real Ademar Leone at home and it means we now have to beat them on their cown court," Karabatić told ehfCL.com in an exclusive interview.

“It was of the utmost importance to beat Partizan and getting two points against them was no easy task because they have improved immensely.

“"Our experience made the difference in the end," he said.

Montpellier have had a topsy-turvy season so far and Karabatić said he was hopeful they would eventually be able to reproduce last season’s form, adding that a revamped team with a plethora of new players needed some time to gel.

"We have many new faces in the squad this season and we are trying very hard to start firing on all cylinders as soon as possible.

"Missing two injured players affected us against Partizan so we had to play strong defence and could afford no mistakes from fast breaks in the last 10 minutes. Fortunately, things panned out for us in the end." said Karabatić.

Karabatić and his team mates could have been easily mistaken for Partizan’s second team before the throw-off, having borrowed the Serbian champions’ reserve kits after losing their luggage en route to Serbia.

The winner of European, World, and Olympic titles with France, who was born in Niš before his family moved to France when he was a child, left no room for doubt how emotionally he took playing in his hometown as well as where his loyalty was in international handball.

"It is always a great honour and a privilege to play in Niš, the atmosphere was fantastic.

"As far as international handball is concerned, I will make myself available to France for as long as the coach wants me to play and we are heading to the IHF World Championship in January aiming for another podium finish.

"We have won it all, but every tournament is a new challenge, hence we are going to the World Championship as well as EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark with the highest ambitions," promised Karabatić.


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljević / cor
 
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