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23.11.2015, 09:07
Montenegrin 'young guns' want to impress Europe
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EHF EURO INSIGHTS: The EHF EURO 2016 marks Montenegro's third participation at this level, and head coach Ljubomir Obradovic readies the team for something seemingly simple: its first win
 

Montenegrin 'young guns' want to impress Europe

Less than two months ahead of the start of Men’s EHF EURO 2016, Montenegro head coach Ljubomir Obradovic has a reasonably clear idea about the team he will send to Poland – despite several injured players whose participation remains uncertain.

The test tournament Montenegro played at the beginning of November in Umag with matches against FYR Macedonia (30:30) and host Croatia (23:28) proved the team has progressed since the qualification but also revealed certain areas that need work ahead of the EHF EURO.

Left back Vuko Borozan was Montenegro’s top scorer of in Umag with 12 goals, but the real surprise was that Borozan played in front of the 5-1 defence against Croatia, which worked surprisingly well given the fact he is 2,03 metre tall.

In general, Obradovic has noticed with satisfaction that his players are granted more and more court time in their respective clubs, which helps him to implement his desired changes.

He wants to make Montenegro play faster in attack, something that was already implemented in Umag, and his ambition is to change the type of play from the past years, producing players who are able to play both attack and defence – already against FYR Macedonia and Croatia there were much less changes from attack to defence phase and vice versa.

Young and untouchable

Bearing in mind the players who played the qualification and took to the court in Umag, Obradovic has formed a group of players whom he can trust; some of them are very young, but they are already capable of taking on an important role in any game.

The three goalkeepers likely to go Poland are Rade Mijatovic, Mile Mijuskovic and Radivoje Ristanovic. 22-year-old Nebojsa Simic has been playing a notable season in the VELUX EHF Champions League with Swedish IFK Kristianstad to date, but his place in the team will depend on the form and health of the much more experienced trio Mijatovic (34), Mijuskovic (30) and Ristanovic (32).

With Milan Popovic currently being injured, only Milos Vujovic is certain for Poland on the left wing. He has huge potential and plays a quick, modern style. Mirko Majic was second choice on this position in Umag, and at the moment he is the favourite to also be part of the team in that position.

There are no doubts on the right wing, with Fahrudin Melic and Mirko Radovic being ‘untouchable’ at the moment.

Vuk Lazovic was the only line player at the Umag tournament, since Nemanja Grbovic and Branko Kankaras were injured. Both injuries are not serious, so that at least two of them, probably all three, will go to Poland.

The problem for the future is to find a tall line player for the national team to have more options in attack and defence, since Montenegro in the past lost two very talented players with that kind of profile, as Mijajlo Marsenic (22) and Jovo Damjanovic (18) decided to play for Serbia and Qatar respectively.

Vuko Borozan, Vesko Sevaljevic and Milos Bozovic are currently in the pole position for the spots on the left back.

At centre back, Bogdan Petricevic was the revelation of the EHF EURO qualifiers; he can cover almost all positions in defence. In one-on-one situations he is perhaps the toughest of all Montenegrin players.

Centre back Mirko Milasevic is part of the national team since 2006 and he is likely to be part of the team in Poland again, however Bozo Andjelic has proven he can be a valid option.

Arguably Montenegro’s biggest potential is on the right back. Vladan Lipovina and Stefan Cavor have both made great progress, they are practically shoo-ins for Poland, but the excellent potential of 17-year-old Branko Vujovic, who this summer joined Polish side KS Vive Tauron Kielce, will make Obradovic’s life difficult as he will have two choose just two out of those three almost players.

The Montenegro coach maybe will opt to bring all three of them to Poland. Adding Borozan and Sevaljevic to these three, Montenegro has a lot of ‘shooting potential’ in their back court line-up.

Hope for ‘third time lucky’ at Poland 2016

The Men’s EHF EURO 2016 in Poland will be the third participation for Montenegro at this level, however, the team still waits for its first win, having conceded eight defeats and played one draw to date.

At the EHF EURO 2008 in Norway, Montenegro reached Main Round thanks to a draw against Russia. In Denmark, at the EHF EURO 2014, Montenegro finished the preliminary round without a victory.

At Poland 2016 Montenegro will face Denmark, Hungary and Russia in Group D. Two out these three, Denmark and Russia, Montenegro also met at the EHF EURO 2008 – hence there is hope in the Montenegrin camp that the team can make the main round once again, which would be considered a huge success.


TEXT: Saša Jončić / ts
 
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