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06.03.2016, 15:30
All cards on the table ahead of Slovenia vs FYR Macedonia clash
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PREVIEW: No secrets, a clean bill of health, several new players and some old problems, as Uros Bregar's Slovenia look to turn the tables
 

All cards on the table ahead of Slovenia vs FYR Macedonia clash

Having come empty-handed from two opening matches in the Group 4, Slovenia currently find themselves four points away from the group leaders Montenegro and Croatia.

However, with the imminent double-header against the outsiders Macedonia (no points from two matches) scheduled for 10 March (Maribor) and 12 March (Skopje), as well as the return fixtures against Croatia and Montenegro in June, there is still sufficient time for Uros Bregar’s team to turn their fortunes around and secure the Women’s EHF EURO 2016 berth.

Faced with a clean bill of health ahead of the first match, Slovenia approach the important clashes against FYR Macedonia with optimism.

Backcourt duo Lina Krhlikar and Ana Gros are now back with the national team, after being sidelined with injuries for the match against Montenegro (20:22) in October.

“We weren’t doing very well until that Montenegro match. But that performance saw a good amount of upside in our game. I hope we can build on it.

“We’re still struggling with rhythm, adding to our constant issues with limited rotation, but we will do our best to get by,” says Bregar.

“I regard these two matches as a ‘must-win’, if we are to obtain a favourable spot in our group. It can even be a ‘best third’ spot, if we make a good enough result.

“But the two upcoming matches are still only a percussive, rather than a direct decider. We must clinch it against either Croatia or Montenegro, before we can calculate.”

All cards on the table

Even with new coach Sime Simovski taking over last September, FYR Macedonia will pose very few unknowns for Bregar who has already familiarised himself with the finest Macedonian players as the assistant coach at Vardar.

Bregar will undoubtedly look to put his knowledge garnered at the Macedonian powerhouse to good use and secure the decisive edge for his team.

“I’m no stranger to Macedonia, and there will be few surprises for me when we meet. However, it will be no easy tasks, as the loser will effectively be out of the EURO reckoning,” said Bregar.

There are not many secrets in this Slovenian side, either. With a rather modest pool of players and the ‘short bench’, everything is still in the hands of Marincek, Mavsar, Gros and the likes.

“I can name the leading factors in our team right now; it is no secret. We need Marincek and Stefanisin to perform in goal, whilst hoping for an inspired performance from Son, Gros and Jerincek from our backcourt.

“We will be looking to reap benefits from Neli Irman’s fine form for Buducnost, as well Vardar’s Barbara Lazovic; they are capable of making the difference for us,” says Bregar.

Krim of the crop

Having worked with some of the best youth setups in Europe as the coach at Krim and Vardar, Bregar is a real connoisseur of young talent.

Stefanisin, Mavsar, Baric, Lazovic, are only a few of the names to have come through the setup of Slovenian hatchery. Krim players (both former and current) make the essence of the national team, and under Bregar’s supervision, much of that cohesion will become the Slovenia’s biggest weapon.

“Our young players are still fairly unknown to many, but they have exceptional feel for the game. Without any intention to rush them, I have selected a few, but Tjasa Stanko stands out as the one capable of making a surprise,” explains.

Slovenia team selected for the Women’s EHF EURO 2016 qualifying matches against Macedonia:

Goalkeepers: Misa Marinček (Krim Mercator), Amra Pandzic (Krim Mercator), Sergeja Stefanisin (Krim Mercator)

Left wings: Tamara Mavsar (Krim Mercator), Ines Amon (Velenje)

Left backs: Lina Krhlikar (Frisch auf Gopppingen –Nem), Nina Jericek (Nimes), Maja Son (Nimes), Lea Krajn (Zagorje)

Centre backs: Ana Petrinja (Frisch auf Gopppingen), Polona Baric (Krim Mercator), Tjasa Stanko (Zagorje)

Right backs: Barbara Lazovic (Vardar), Ana Gros (Metz)

Right wings: Alja Koren (Krim Mercator), Neli Irman (Buducnost)

Line players: Katja Cerenjak (Zelene Doline Zalec), Teja Ferfolja (Mlinotest Ajdovscina)


TEXT: Nemanja Savic / ts
 
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