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24.04.2013, 17:31
Vuković set to step down as Serbia coach
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Ljubomir Vranješ and Vladan Matić lined up as potential successors
 

Vuković set to step down as Serbia coach

When Serbia finished as the EHF EURO 2012 runners-up, winning their first handball medal as an independent nation, few would have imagined that their coach, Veselin Vuković, would have to part company with the national team under fan and media pressure barely 15 months later.

However, a run of poor results, culminating in a slim tally of just one point from two games against unheralded Austria in their recent EHF EURO 2014 qualifiers, proved to be the final straw in a meltdown triggered by a group stage exit in the 2012 London Olympics and amplified by equally unimpressive performances at January’s 2013 World Championship in Spain.

“We are on the right track to part company with Vuković by mutual consent and I think neither side will be unhappy because we had a civilised meeting devoid of any tension,” Serbian Handball Federation (RSS) general secretary Božidar Đurković told Belgrade media.

“The details will be announced at the next RSS Managing Board session, because that’s the body in charge of making the decision,” he added.

Amid speculation in the past few weeks that Vuković’s days at the helm of Serbia’s national team were numbered, local media touted Serbia’s former international winger Vladan Matić and former Sweden ace Ljubomir Vranješ, who has Serbian roots, as the prime candidates to take over.

The rift between Vuković and the RSS became public after Serbia’s  fortuitous home draw with Austria in Zrenjanin, when the coach and some of the players confirmed that they no longer saw the national team’s strategy and tactics eye to eye.

While Vuković insisted on injecting plenty of fresh blood into a squad of talented but ageing stalwarts, even if that meant missing EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark or failing to make an impact there, the RSS argued that missing out on a major tournament would be too heavy a price to pay for a rather risky move.

“Our ambition is to go to Denmark with the strongest squad available and try to make an impact there, in order to keep up our run of reaching every major tournament possible, which would in turn ensure a smooth and seamless change of generations,” RSS president Velimir Marjanovic said earlier this week.

Despite producing gems like Partizan winger Bogdan Radivojević, who will join Bundesliga side Flensburg next season, Serbia does not seem to have enough players of his calibre for rapid and successful rebuilding.

Getting rid of all the veterans at once would leave too big a pair of shoes to fill in too many positions, hence it seems Vuković’s departure was imminent after his team failed to live up to expectations following a flash of brilliance on home soil in last year’s EHF EURO.


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljević / cor
 
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