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11.06.2013, 11:16
Serbia enter crucial week with upbeat Vranješ
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New coach positive about earning an EHF EURO 2014 berth
 

Serbia enter crucial week with upbeat Vranješ

Serbia are heading into their last two EHF EURO 2014 qualifiers knowing that only a pair of wins against Russia away on Wednesday and Bosnia-Herzegovina at home on Sunday will guarantee them a spot in January’s 16-nation tournament in Denmark.

There were few surprises in new coach Ljubomir Vranješ’s 17-man roster for the ties, but the former Sweden centre-back, born from Serbian parents in Gothenburg, told reporters in his inaugural press conference as the Balkan country’s coach that he had a few tricks up his sleeve for the crunch encounter with the Russians in Astrakhan.

"There are a few things I want to change, namely some details which can make all the difference," Vranješ said in Serbia’s Kovilovo training centre as his team geared up for the trip to Astrakhan.

"We need will-power first and foremost to beat the Russians. We will try to deploy tactical surprises too, however. I may have a Scandinavian mindset but I see myself as a European coach analsysing each rival separatelly.

"I always want my team to be one step ahead of the rivals, tactically and technically, and to do that I try to apply various scripts I have learned throughout Europe," he said.

Vranješ, who coaches German Bundesliga side SG Flensburg-Handewitt, was hired by the Serbian Handball Federation (RSS) on a week-long basis to weather the storm which rocked the EHF EURO 2012 runners-up after they collected just one point from two games against Austria, leaving them on the brink of elimination.

Future cooperation, hence, largely depends on whether Serbia avoid what would constitute an embarrassing early exit from the big stage.

"I am proud to be sitting here today in an effort to help out in a very difficult situation," said Vranješ.

"We are looking at two very tough games but I think we have a very good chance and that’s why I took this job.

"I always see a way out but it’s going to require hard work, especially form the players. I think they are ready and we are fully focused on the first game with the Russians. After the qualifiers I will sit down with the RSS chiefs again and see what’s the best course of action," he stressed.

RSS president Velimir Marjanović left no room for doubt what Serbia’s ambitions were, pointing out he would like to see Vranješ carry on after the qualifiers.

"I  hope we can continue the cooperation after the qualifiers and even beyond EHF EURO 2014. This should be the beginning of a new era in Serbian handball and failure to qualify would be the Federation’s fault for not taking timely action. It’s imperative that we qualify and that’s why we worked so hard to get Vranješ into our ranks," said Marjanović.

Captain Momir Ilić, who carried Serbia in their impressive EHF EURO 2012 run to silver on home soil, said it was down to the players to get going now that the going got tough for them.

"We have to bring the best in ourselves with the new coach at the helm. We know what we are up against but it is still in our hands and we are determined to qualify for Denmark 2014," said Ilić.

"We are exhausted after a long  season, but also we made it difficult for ourselves and now have to dig deep to get through the two most important games in the qualifiers.

"We want to achieve greater heights with the new coach and if we sort things out in our heads for the games against Russia and Bosnia, we should be able to cross the finish line," he added.


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljević / ts
 
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