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06.03.2016, 10:30
Serbia look to clinch pole position on Djuric debut
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PREVIEW: Serbia are faced with comebacks, debuts, and limited time to ready their team for the vital clashes, as the double-header against Czech Republic is to determine the top spot in Group 2
 

Serbia look to clinch pole position on Djuric debut

Serbian national team coach Dragica Djuric has nominated 17 players for the upcoming decisive double-header in the Women’s EHF EURO 2016 Qualification against Czech Republic.

Serbia find themselves joint first in Group 2 with four points - same as their upcoming rivals Czech Republic which further emphasises the importance of the duels in Zlin (9 March) and Kraljevo (13 March). 

With five newbies in the team, and less than six days until the first match, the Serbian coaching staff will hastily round up the preparations in a bid to ready their team for the all-important challenge of the qualification. 

“We are familiar with this Czech team, however, we are approaching this first match with great caution.

“I have a lot of respect for them. They are a quality team with several standout individuals, and have remained with a largely unchanged squad, which is always an advantage,” said Djuric who was only made head coach until the end of the qualifications at the end of February.

Focus on defensive improvements

The first match against Czech Republic will hence mark a big occasion for Djuric, as she will celebrate her debut on the national team bench.

In anticipation of the all-important duel and the first step towards a change for the better, the main questions remains: is there sufficient time for the implemented changes to bed, without hampering performance?

“We have been nurturing a system for more than a year now, and the World Championship 2015 saw its implementation, while providing some much needed experience. It is most important that we build consistency now,” said Djuric.

“I’m mostly satisfied with our game in attack, and no major changes are needed there. However, it is our defensive game that needs big improvement.

“As a goalkeeper, I have spent a lot of time studying defensive movements, and that’s where major changes are going to be made. We will play a much more aggressive defence, and insist on a disciplined approach - every player will precisely know her task,” said Djuric.

Emphasis on collective strength

The experienced right wing Katarina Krpez-Slezak, will remain the captain of this new-look team.

Alongside Jelena Zivkovic, Jovana Risovic, Kristina Liscevic, and Jovana Stoiljkovic, Krpez completes the group of five players that have remained constant on the national team sheet since 2012; and throughout both the Women’s EHF EURO 2012 as well as the World Championship 2013.

“It is the newly found energy in our team that inspires us to set the right foundation for the challenges ahead. I’m confident we are working towards a positive start,” said Djuric.

“Liscevic, Zivkovic, Stoiljkovic, as the backcourt trio, Krpez on the wing, as well as Risovic in goal, are the leaders of this team. With an emphasis on collective strength, they will be the starting point of any progress we make as a team,” said Djuric.

In contrast to the most recent selection for the World Championship 2015, Djuric opted for several surprise inclusions.

Returning to the national line-up is experienced line player Sladjana Pop-Lazic, while the newbies Marija Colic (goalkeeper), Jovana Kovacevic and Marija Obradovic (left backs) are set to make their competitive debut for Serbia.

“These all well-deserved inclusions. Their club form was hard to overlook, and we must strive to reap the benefits of their good form in the national team,” said Djuric.

“The players are selected based on their physiological profile, making sure we’re a strong bunch - a real collective. Everyone is doing what’s necessary for the team to do well. We have great togetherness and believe in our ability, and I feel it is time for everyone else to start having faith in us, as well,” concluded Djuric

Serbian national team selected for the Women’s EHF EURO qualifying matches against Czech Republic:

Goalkeepers: Jovana Risovic (Radnicki), Ana Kacarevic (Izvor), Marija Colic (Nimes)

Left wings: Sanja Radosavljevic (Radnicki), Dijana Radojevic (Jagodina)

Left backs: Jovana Stoiljkovic (Nantes), Jelena Trifunovic (Trabzon), Jovana Kovacevic (Buducnost), Marija Obradovic (Krim Mercator)

Centre backs: Kristina Liscevic (Vac), Tamara Georgijev (Ardesen),

Right backs: Jelena Zivkovic (Craiova), Andjela Janjusevic (Radnicki)

Right wings: Katarina Krpez – Slezak (ERD), Zeljka Nikolic (Ringkøbing)

Line players: Marija Petrovic (Izvor), Sladjana Pop-Lazic (Metz)


TEXT: Nemanja Savic / ts
 
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