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31.05.2016, 15:42
Unbeaten Serbia with a job to finish
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NEWS REPORT: On the cusp of their ninth Women’s EHF EURO berth, Serbia hope for a triumphant end to qualification and eye a first place group finish
 

Unbeaten Serbia with a job to finish

Having overcome some of the most turbulent times in national team history, following the less than impressive World Championship 2015, Serbia enter the last two matches of the Women’s EHF EURO 2016 qualification with a goal to remain top of the group and book their ticket to Sweden.

Caretaker coach Dragica Djuric has managed to achieve stability and raise the competitive level in a very short time with the team. However, despite her mission being all but accomplished, it is still uncertain whether the legendary goalkeeper will continue at the helm of the Serbian team, having only previously agreed to the caretaker role until the end of qualification.

Undefeated Serbia top Group 2 with seven points from four matches, including one draw, followed by Czech Republic with five as well as Ukraine with four.

Dmitrovic makes return, Djokovic set for debut

The roster boasts now very familiar faces including national team captain and Hungarian league top scorer Katarina Krpez-Slezak, flamboyant playmaker Kristina Liscevic, as well as Jovana Risovic, dubbed the rightful successor to the legendary Djuric in goal; there was still space for several surprise additions.

“The in-form Marina Dmitrovic makes her return to the national team after having an impressive season for Ploiesti in the Romanian league. Dmitrovic brings vast experience to the team, having won silver at the World Championship 2013, playing alongside several current national team members,” said Djuric

The fresh face in the team is the domestic league MVP Anastazija Djokovic. The energetic left wing from Naisa impressed in the domestic league, also being ranked among the top 10 scorers of the competition.

“I am very happy to be back in the national team. I’ve had a great season in Romania and feel ready and eager to fit in and give my contribution in order to improve the team,” said the experienced Marina Dmitrovic, while the debutant Djokovic was unequivocal of her chance to impress:

“I do not feel nervous at all. I am happy to have the chance to be here, and to show what I can do in the national team shirt. I don’t feel very new here either, as I’ve played with many of these girls before,” said the 26 year-old.

However, there are injury worries for a number of national team regulars.

Marija Colic joins the injured young star Andjela Janjusevic on the treatment table. Janjusevic will be out for several months recovering from an ACL injury, while Colic has sustained a fractured foot.

Line player stalwart Sladjana Pop-Lazic is fighting fatigue, as are several domestic league players who featured in the Serbian Cup final during the weekend. Despite the obvious absentees, the team will largely remain the same, but with greater reliance on rotation to prevent further injury troubles.

Making up for lost time

Time was working against Serbian team, yet again. They will fly to Ukraine without a single training session; however, Djuric made sure frequent contact with the players is maintained, in order to make up for the lack of time to suitably prepare.

“I had to find the way to work with the team and each player individually in their absence. We did as much as we could over the phone or on Skype – analysed videos, corrected mistakes, discussed potential improvements, as well as give advice.

“Many players believe it helped them improve their game, and I am glad it did, because it took a great deal of effort from us to work in these impossible conditions. But in the end, we all love what we do, and we are here with a goal, so we have to give our utmost effort to succeed,” said Djuric.

“Tactically, the plan to raise individual awareness and therefore create chances from the aggressive 6:0 or 5:1 defence will be up to the biggest test. We will prioritise defensive discipline, while the fast wing players will be expected to exploit any fast breaks opportunities to score easy goals,” said Djuric.

Serbia will meet Ukraine on 1 June in Kiev, while the last match of the qualification will line them up against Italy, in front of the home crowd in Kraljevo on 4 June.

The Serbian squad for the Women’s EHF EURO 2016 qualification matches against Ukraine and Italy:

Goalkeepers: Jovana Risovic (Radnicki), Ana Kacarevic (Izvor), Nina Kolundzic (Sloga)

Left wings: Sanja Radosavljevic (Radnicki), Anastazija Djokovic (Naisa)

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

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

Right backs: Jelena Zivkovic (Craiova), Marina Dmitrovic (Ploiesti)

Right wings: Katarina Krpez – Slezak (ERD), Dijana Stevin (Djon)

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


TEXT: Nemanja Savic / cor
 
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