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07.10.2015, 14:42
Work begins in earnest for Serbia
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FEATURE: Serbia hoping to secure berth to their fifth major competition in a row, boasting a new-look team for the Women’s EHF EURO 2016 qualification against Ukraine and Italy
 

Work begins in earnest for Serbia

Frontlining the list of Women’s EHF EURO 2016 hopefuls from Group 2 is Serbia. Resurrected from the ashes of the Women’s EHF EURO 2014 early elimination, Serbia have shown signs of promise in a World Championship 2015 play-off defeat against Romania, opening their Women’s EHF EURO 2016 qualification campaign with a new-look team.

Serbian national team are facing Ukraine, Italy and Czech Republic in Group 2 on the road to their third consecutive Women’s EHF EURO, as the preparations are on-going for the opening match against Ukraine on home court in Kraljevo (8 October).

“Our past results have earned us the privileged seeding position, and therefore a more playable group. I will not shy away from our role as favourites, as well as the responsibility that comes with it. I am confident in stepping up to the challenge,” said Serbia coach Sasa Boskovic and continued.

“The doubleheader against Romania showed promising signs that we can hold our own against the best teams.

“Securing the EURO berth far exceeds the sheer importance of being at a major competition. It is essential for us. It will mean we will take part in our fifth major competition in a row.

“That fact alone would be a major recognition of the entire work we have done as a national in the long run, and a validation of my players’ effort and value, said Boskovic.

Only the fit will play

Boskovic did not take any chances selecting the team to face Ukraine and Italy in October. With two left backs Jelena Trifunovic and Biljana Bandelier not fully fit, the coach opted to give opportunity to younger players, predominately from the Serbian league.

Boskovic’s confidence in domestically-based players is evident with 10 players from Serbian clubs on the team sheet.

However, the last-minute injury to goalkeeper Ana Kacarevic caused French league players to raise stock to four, as Marina Pantic was picked as replacement joining Jovana Stoiljkovic, Dijana Stevin, and Ivana Filipovic, with the latter replacing her older sister Biljana Bandelier at left back.  

“Only the fit will play. It is our policy.  Amidst some injury woes to my first-choice players, I have decided to opt for several deserving names from the domestic league.

“I feel these players have earned a chance, and give a ton of credibility to our domestic competition that has shown significant improvement in quality.

“It is an unequivocal message to the players of domestic teams there is a place for them in my plans, if they take opportunity to play and impress,” said Boskovic, who took over the national team in 2011.

Quality over quantity

Serbia will have busy period prior to the Women’s World Championship in early December. With the Women’s EHF EURO 2016 qualification taking place this week and players returning to their clubs after the national team week, the work starts in earnest from the very throw-off in Kraljevo against Ukraine on Thursday.

“With the qualifications just around the corner, and World Championship awaiting in December, we are working against the clock here to prepare the team.

“Right now, we’re on schedule in our preparation for Ukraine, but we must use every single minute available to ready the team,” said 52-year old Boskovic.

Changes in the squad due to injuries of two first choice left backs prevent Boskovic from fully executing his game plan, with the team he took to the Women’s EHF EURO semi-finals in 2012, as well as the World Championship final two years ago.

However, the experienced coach does not hide the fact that his team to face Ukraine will posses great strength in rotation, granting opportunity to employ some tactical variety to their game.

“We always go for quality over quantity. We want a good amount of rotation to keep our players fresh, but we also want our six on the court to be able to contribute in all phases of the game with as little rotation as possible between attack and defence.

“We always look to improve where possible, but we will have to develop as we go, as we do not have much time. Every match is opportunity to us to grow as a team and develop our game. I am confident we will come out strong,“ concluded Boskovic.

Serbian national team selected for Women’s EHF EURO 2016 qualification matches against Ukraine and Italy:

Goalkeepers: Jovana Risovic (Radnicki), Nina Kolundzic (Sloga), Marina Pantic (Dijon)

Back court players: Kristina Liscevic (Vac), Andjela Janjusevic, Ivana Prijovic (Radnicki), Jovana Stoiljkovic (Nantes), Jovana Kovacevic (Junior), Tamara Georgijev (Ardesen), Dijana Stevin (Dijon), Jelena Zivkovic (Municipal Craiova) Ivana Filipovic (HBC Saint Amand PH)

Wing players: Sanja Radosavljevic (Radnicki), Tamara Zarkovic (Knjaz Milos), Katarina Krpez (ERD), Dijana Radojevic (Jagodina)

Line players: Marija Petrovic, Sanja Rajovic (Knjaz Milos)


TEXT: Nemanja Savic / cor
 
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