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17.06.2013, 14:27
Buoyant Vranješ ready to rekindle vintage Serbia
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Former Sweden centre back pledges to carry on at EHF EURO 2014
 

Buoyant Vranješ ready to rekindle vintage Serbia

With their backs against the wall ahead of the final two EHF EURO 2014 qualifiers against Russia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Serbians produced a pair of outstanding performances to win both games and storm through to next January’s 16-nation tournament in Denmark.

A narrow one-goal win at Russia was followed by Sunday’s 30:23 defeat of Bosnia-Herzegovina which lifted Serbia to the top of Group 7 with nine points from six games, one ahead of surprise package Austria who finished second ahead of Russia, who still scraped through as the best third-placed team.

Serbia’s new coach Ljubomir Vranješ, who took over on a week-long basis as country’s Handball Federation (RSS) reached out for desperate measures following a split with Veselin Vuković, will take the lion’s share of the credit after bringing the best out of a talented team in a short time-span.

"If we have all the top players fit and at our disposal this team can beat anybody," Vranješ told reporters after Serbia brushed aside a battling Bosnian side in the Čair Hall, a handball stronghold in the southern city of Niš.

"Serbia are an excellent outfit and we will show that together in Denmark. There are departments we have to improve in but overall I am delighted with how the lads accepted me and supported my ideas," said Vranješ, suggesting that the upcoming talks with the RSS on extending his contract are a mere formality.

"My philosophy is based on a quick transitional game where the goalkeeper, tough defence and a quick restart are essential.

"I am delighted that the players applied this strategy effervescently in the first half against Russia and the second half against Bosnia.

"We were all tired as some of the players have notched 100 games or so under their belts this season while I have 70, but we got the job done and qualified for the European Championship as the group winners," he emphasised.

Serbia’s stalwarts Momir Ilić and Darko Stanić were quick to praise the work of former Sweden centre back Vranješ, a trophy-laden handball icon who also coaches German Bundesliga side and VELUX EHF Champions League participants, SG Flensburg-Handewitt.

"We followed his advice to keep it tight in defence and not give our opponents too much room to operate, and it paid handsome dividends. We have to start thinking big and believing in our potential in order to hope for a podium finish in Denmark," said Ilić, who scored five goals against the Bosnians in a frenetic atmosphere in Čair.

Goalkeeper Stanić, another pillar of Serbia’s success in EHF EURO 2012 when they finished as runners-up on home court, also applauded the coach and the boisterous fans who carried the home team to victory.

"I am at a loss for words to describe how proud I am of the coach, my teammates and the fantastic crowd who showed so much faith and roared us on across the finish line," he said.


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljević / ts
 
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