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15.03.2013, 19:30
We would very much like to cause another upset, Marguč says
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The second best scorer of the current season would rather win without scoring once than to have 20 goals to his name and still lose in the Match of the Week against Hamburg on Saturday.
 

We would very much like to cause another upset, Marguč says

The old Slovenian adage that "youth supports the world" proved to be true once more. After two seasons of experience gathering the youngsters from Celje have landed in the VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16 where they, untroubled by pressure are awaiting Hamburg. Hoping for another upset after a shocking victory over Kiel is 22-year old star winger Gašper Marguč.

He is a modest, down-to-earth fellow, but that should not fool anybody. Give him a ball and a little bit of space and he will score. Mercilessly, over and over again. A regular in the ehfTV.com Team of the week feature this season, this homegrown jewel is enjoying a superb campaign with 65 goals to his name, a feat second only to Hamburg's Hans Lindberg (69).   

ehfCL.com: Celje have managed to secure a spot in the last 16 in a very competitive group with Veszprém, Kiel, Atlético Madrid, Sävehof and Constanta. How would you rate this achievement?

Gašper Marguč: We are very satisfied to have qualified to the knock-out stage. The group was extremely tough. We knew we had to get past Sävehof and the Romanians, but we also wanted to put up a decent fight with the favorites. I think that we managed to do that in Spain and in Germany. Well, we also managed to beat Kiel at home, so that was an added bonus and a motivational boost. So all in all we did quite good.

ehfCL.com: You shocked the handball world on 17 November with that 31:28 win over Kiel. How big was that?

Gašper Marguč: Before the match our plan was simple — just do our best and keep the goal difference to a minimum. But we soon realized that the opposition was not as hard as we expected, we felt that we can truly compete. A lot of things went our way, we saw the chance and we took it with both hands. It was a great night for us and the fans.

ehfCL.com: In three seasons you and your team-mates have gone from a group of inexperienced youngsters to an ambitious outfit capable of causing problems for even the best teams in Europe. How did this happen?

Gašper Marguč: Three years ago, when the old team fell apart due to the economic dowturn, there were a lot of skeptics saying that it will take a lot of time for Celje to be competitive again. But we have proved that our handball academy is one of the best in Europe. We, homegrown boys, have successfully taken the burden of responsibility. We are more experienced now and in Vladan Matić we have a great coach who understands young players. Our squad has stayed more or less the same in the past couple of years and we were able to grow.

ehfCL.com: These events also created a shift of power at the top of Slovenian handball. Celje, once sole ruler of the league, had to give way to Koper and Gorenje. But this season's play-off promises to bring more drama, don't you agree?

Gašper Marguč: Absolutely. We are only three points behind Gorenje and we have just beaten them in the Cup final. The long losing streak with the guys from Velenje is finally over. That gives us an added dose of confidence. Our primary goal still is the qualification for the next edition of the Champions League and we are on the right path. But the championship is wide open and we will do our best to bring the title back to Celje.
 
ehfCL.com: There are no easy opponents in the last 16. What do you think of Hamburg?
 
Gašper Marguč: At the start of the season Hamburg were a bit underwhelming, but their form has been steadily improving since Bitter's recovery. Recently I watched them easily overcome Rhein-Neckar Löwen who are near the top in the Bundesliga. That says a lot. They are a formidable opponent and a clear favourite in this tie. However, we would very much like to cause another upset.

ehfCL.com: In what shape are Celje?  

Gašper Marguč: The atmosphere before the big match is fine. We are a bit tired after a week or so of tough matches. We had just won the Cup and we have a few injuries. Unfortunately, Lékai is out, so we'll have to depend only on Mačkovšek, Skube and Razgor in the left outfield. Still, you don't get to play Hamburg every week. We regard this match as a reward for our good performances. We've reached our goal in this competition, so there is no pressure. We can go out there, play and have fun. We are also looking forward to a capacity crowd, so it should be pretty loud come throw-off.

ehfCL.com: The match will also set the stage for a duel between the two best scorers in the European top flight — Lindberg and yourself, both playing on the right wing. Are you looking forward to it?

Gašper Marguč: Honestly, I don't think about it. By all means I will give it my all but I'd much rather win without scoring once than to have 20 goals to my name and still lose.
 
ehfCL.com: Nevertheless, your goal tally this season is pretty impressive. What is your secret?  

Gašper Marguč: There is no secret, really. I am thankfull to my teammates who create a lot of chances for me to score. The coach gives me plenty of minutes on the field and I just try to make the most of it.

ehfCL.com: Your performances have surely created some interest from other clubs. Any potential suitors yet?

Gašper Marguč: No, nothing tangible yet. For the time being all my plans are with Celje.

Further information
Follow the Match of the Week free and live on ehfTV.com on Saturday at 16:15 hrs local time


TEXT: Grega Sever / br
 
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