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30.11.2014, 09:00
Boskovic: "These players are our greatest treasure"
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INTERVIEW: An injury-struck Serbian team prepares for the EHF EURO 2014, as national team coach Boskovic praises the team spirit and cohesion, assuring the Serbians will overcome all obstacles
 

Boskovic: "These players are our greatest treasure"

Serbia's women’s national team is facing an injury crisis with no less than six players, including the quintessential Andrea Lekic, Sanja Damnjanovic and Katarina Tomasevic recovering from injuries, and the form of the all-important line player Dragana Cvijic in question with less than two weeks left until the Women’s EHF EURO 2014.

In wake of their final preparation, before they leave for Osijek to face the likes of Montenegro, France and Slovakia, ehf-euro.com spoke with national team coach Sasa Boskovic about the current state of the national team, their plans and expectations ahead of the EHF EURO 2014.

ehf-euro.com: Your team is facing an injury crisis, with the status of six players still uncertain. Do you know the extents of these injuries yet, and whether there are going to be any unplanned changes to the squad prior to the EHF EURO 2014?
Sasa Boskovic: We have a severe injury crisis in our team. I'm burdened by these developments, and I'm not sure that everyone’s fully aware the gravity of this situation.

We have only a few days left to prepare for the EURO. Six very important players (Tomasevic, Lekic, Trifunovic, Milosevic, Damnjanovic and Liscevic) will miss out on the preparation tournament in Norway (Mobelringen Cup), but that was expected due to their injury recovery process (Dragana Cvijic will await further examination in Belgrade, and will not travel to Norway as a precaution).

Most of them are doing very well to get back to training and regain fitness, and Andrea Lekic is making good recovery progress at Vardar, but it is still early to make any predictions. I can only hope nobody else will pick up any injuries in the coming days.

ehf-euro.com: Your answer suggests that the biggest problem lies on the left back and centre back position. What are the potential solutions to the problem, and do you feel you have an adequate depth in your squad?
Sasa Boskovic: Yes, it certainly is. Even the players who were meant to directly replace Damnjanovic and Lekic (Jelena Trifunovic and Kristina Liscevic) now have injuries. It is frustrating on so many levels, as we couldn’t help to prevent this in any way.

We are left without a proper backup for these key players, with the EURO just around the corner. As for the solution, my staff and I always try looking at the positive side of things.

We will attempt to take the best of the situation, and give our youngsters like Risovic, Janjusevic, Radosavljevic, Garovic a chance to impress at the Mobelringen Cup, in a bid to get ready for the EURO the best possible way.

We are all very close to each other and there’s a big bond between us. We are like one big family, and we always consult with each other on every matter. In this case, it will be no different. I will wait for the injured players to recover as long as I can, and then we will sit and discuss everything.

ehf-euro.com: From a fan’s viewpoint, the set of circumstances you have seem rather discouraging. What effect, if any, does this injury crisis have on the team spirit right before the Women’s EHF EURO 2014?
Sasa Boskovic: The team spirit is high. It always has been. Despite all the trouble we have, the only thing not in question right now, is the willingness of all our players to play for Serbia.

Their desire to put the Serbia shirt on and give their best effort on the court is undisputed - these players are our greatest treasure! But as much as the determination and iron will are a great strength of this team, they also represent a big problem for me to let them play, if there’s even a slightest doubt their injuries might not have fully subsided.

All of the players put their eagerness to help the team before their own personal goals, and this togetherness is our biggest strength.

ehf-euro.com: You are drawn into a highly competitive group alongside well-known rivals Montenegro and France, as well as Slovakia, who will surely look to mount a surprise effort. What is your opinion of the Women’s EHF EURO 2014, as well as the chances and goals the Serbian team has?
Sasa Boskovic: Our main goal would be to qualify for the Olympics in Rio 2016. Saying that, I think that the Women’s EHF EURO has never been more competitive. We have two top-quality teams in our group - France and Montenegro -, but we must not underestimate Slovakia as well.

When I look at other groups, I'm under a strong impression that the EURO competition has never been stronger, and no one is here undeservedly. For instance, among our potential main round rivals, we have the Netherlands who are very capable of a semi-final push, a well-known, quality team of Sweden, as well as Germany who are capable of defeating anyone.

Needless to say, Croatia will look to progress very far as the co-hosts.

ehf-euro.com: Serbia's women’s national team have had a very successful run of results since you took over in 2011, reaching the final of the World Championship 2013, as well as the semi-final at the Women’s EHF EURO 2012. Is that a trend we can expect to continue at the Women’s EHF EURO 2014?
Sasa Boskovic: When I took over the national team we made a clear plan, and the steps we took to fulfill it, highlight the effectiveness of the strategy we’ve made and the work we’ve put into it.

We had a big support from everyone in the Serbian Handball Federation to do our jobs in the best possible way. The medals won at the Mediterranean Games, the World Championship 2013, as well as the 4th place at the EHF EURO 2012 underline the fact that actions speak louder than words in our case.

This time, the goal is to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio. Don’t doubt me, when I promise, I deliver.


TEXT: Nemanja Savic / ts
 
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