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09.06.2015, 11:54
Veselin Vujovic readies Slovenia for the next step
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PREVIEW: Despite missing several important players, Slovenia are ready to finish the job in the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification, with two matches to play under new coach Veselin Vujovic
 

Veselin Vujovic readies Slovenia for the next step

After less than two weeks since he has been appointed, Veselin Vujovic will face the first test as Slovenian national team coach.

He will make his debut in the penultimate round of the EHF EURO Qualification against Slovakia (10 June), before traveling to face Latvia (13 June).

Replacing Boris Denic following his five-year tenure, Vujovic signed a three-year contract with the Slovenian Handball Federation. Therefore, the legendary Yugoslav player and current HC PPD Zagreb coach will complete the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification, as well as the Rio 2016 Olympic cycle.

Vujovic is also expected to nurture young talent and produce the team that will secure participation at the World Championship 2017 as well as the EHF EURO 2018.

"I think the team is ready for the next step. Slovenia has a plethora of talent, and a chance to work with those players is a compliment for any coach," admits Vujovic.

"I often follow Slovenia’s matches, and I’ve recently admitted my jealousy of the players Slovenian coaches had at their disposal. However, I believe I can achieve more with those players," added the 54-year old coach.

Crucial point

With five points in the bag and two matches to go, Slovenia confidently occupy the second place in Group 3. The “Dragons” stand two points short from first-placed Sweden (with seven points).

However, it is the match against Latvia (13 June) that holds the key to the milestone 10th EHF EURO appearance for Slovenia - assuming Marguc, Zorman and co. exploit the home court advantage against Slovakia (10 June).

Youngsters step in for Gajic and Skube

Regardless of being in a good to book the ticket to Poland, there is an injury crisis lingering over Vujovic’s plans. With Stas Skube joining the likes of Miladin Kozlina, Gorazd Skof and Mate Bezjak on the list of injured players, Vujovic was forced to replace right wing Dragan Gajic as well, due to personal reasons.

The performances of Miha Zarabec for Celje Pivovarna Lasko convinced Vujovic of his quality to rival Dean Bombac and Uros Zorman at the centre back position in the absence of Skube.

"Skube could have made the squad, but he needs time to recover from his recent injury. However, his position is quite crowded at the moment, and I felt Miha Zarabec deserves a chance – he will surely feature in my plans," said Vujovic.

Impressed by the amount of young talent Slovenia have, Vujovic included five talented newcomers to fill the voids. Miha Zarabec, Aljosa Rezar, Matjaž Brumen, Darko Cingesar and Vid Poteko will get a chance.

"Darko Cingesar has been impressive for Maribor, and has got the features of the top-class winger, while Vid Poteko is a very versatile player, and deserves a chance.

"I feel the time has come for the Slovenia-based players that have impressed for their clubs to be included to the national team. Having said that, I will always look to give the edge to players from the Slovenian league," says Vujovic.

The Slovenia squad selected for the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification matches against Slovakia (10 June) and Latvia (14 June).

Goalkeepers: Primoz Prost (Frisch auf Göppingen), Matevz Skok (RK Celje PL), Aljosa Rezar (Tremblay)

Wing players: Luka Zvizej (RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko), Darko Cingesar (RK Maribor), Gasper Marguc (MKB-MVM Veszprem), Matjaz Brumen (HC Vardar)

Back court players: Klemen Cehte (AIx), Borut Mackovsek (Montpellier), Sebastian Skube (Silkeborg), Uros Zorman (KS Vive-Tauron Kielce), Dean Bombac (MOL-Pick Szeged), Miha Zarabec (RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko), Jure Dolenec (Montpellier), Jure Natek (Magdeburg), David Miklavcic (RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko), Vid Kavticnik (Montpellier)

Line players: Matej Gaber (Montpellier), Miha Zvizej (Toulouse), Blaz Blagotinsek (RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko), Vid Poteko (RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko)


TEXT: Nemanja Savic / ts
 
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