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21.11.2016, 12:30
Djuric: “We can defeat anyone when everyone does their best”
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TEAM CHECK SERBIA: The Women’s EHF EURO 2016 draw was not kind to Serbia, but coach Dragica Djuric has all the good reasons not to be intimidated by the prospect of facing Slovenia, Spain and Sweden in Group A
 

Djuric: “We can defeat anyone when everyone does their best”

Having topped the Women’s EHF EURO 2016 qualification group, for Serbia, the selection process did not bring much surprise or caused many headaches.

They begin the final countdown to the Women’s EHF EURO 2016 with a fairly clean bill of health.

The only potential issues are the timely recovery of the national team captain Katarina Krpez Slezak (elbow pain), and the match fitness of the team’s brightest prospect Andjela Janjusevic (recovered from an ACL tear), however both are on schedule.

Head coach Dragica Djuric was eager to underline the cohesiveness of her team and points out: “I feel the harmony within this team is the same, as in the national team I used to play in. I feel we can defeat anyone when everyone does their best,” said Djuric who won the gold medal at the 1984 Olympic Games.

The roster

Djuric has repeatedly pointed out the values she will look for in any potential national team player.

"I have selected those who deserve to play. These players have been here for some time now, and have done well for us in the qualification. I firmly believe we have the best possible team available for the EURO,” she Djuric while also stating: “We have no fixed line-up. Everyone will get the chance depending on their form, qualities and our needs.”

However, there is a high likelihood that Serbia will generally look to line-up in the following way, come the Women’s EHF EURO 2016: Jovana Risovic (goalkeeper), Sanja Radosavljevic (left wing), Jovana Stoiljkovic (left back), Kristina Liscevic (centre back), Jelena Zivkovic (right back), Katarina Krpez Slezak (right wing), Sladjana Pop-Lazic (line player).

The attack

The ability to line up in several ways, while maintaining quality of their on-court performance is certainly the biggest quality Serbian team posses.

“We have managed to determine what works best for us – rotation, among other things. We want to preserve our players, and I believe no one is ready to play the full 60 minutes,” claims Djuric.

Some positions may see an increased rotation in order to accommodate certain opponents, however. For example, the Group A showdown against Slovenia might see Tamara Georgijev and Marija Obradovic on the centre and left back positions, for their knowledge of Krim players, who make the vast majority of the Slovenian setup.

In contrast, the game against Spain would ask for more aggressiveness, in an end-to-end battle, so Andjela Janjusevic might get a nod ahead of Jelena Zivkovic on the right back there.

The defence

Serbia were known for the use of their dynamic 6-0, while the most recent tweaks have them move slightly towards the more contemporary, deeper 3-3 or 4-2 formations.

In her recent Women’s EHF Champions League matches, Sladjana Pop-Lazic has shown more defensive versatility, and the seasoned line player will be used in a variety of ways to neutralise the opponents’ back court peril, along with Jelena Trifunovic, who has successfully taken up the role of a commanding defender. 

The coach

Djuric has never shied away from taking risks with younger players, which paid great dividends ever since her appointment. The mutual faith players and coach have in each other will fortify any strength the team have.

Having introduced the likes of the quintessential goalkeeper Jovana Risovic and several other talents to the national team, Djuric has the all the trust of her squad to bring out the best from them.

However, it is not entirely a one-woman show on the Serbian bench. As Djuric has pointed out “We do everything together, as a team.” Her staff works as one unit, with years of experience with the national team.

The outlook

With a fairly clean bill of health and squad boasting more potential than experience, Serbia will go to the Women’s EHF EURO 2016 with promise to become the fabled ‘Dark horse’, if they are to surpass the initial challenge in the tough, quality Group A, consisting of Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

“The main round is a must. I do not care who we play against, as long as we do utmost to win. There are no easy opponents at the EURO, and I see no reason why we should not progress from our group.”

The Serbian 18-name list selected for the Women’s EHF EURO 2016:

Goalkeepers: Jovana Risovic, Nina Kolundzic, Marija Colic

Left wings: Sanja Radosavljevic, Dijana Radojevic

Left backs: Jelena Trifunovic, Jovana Stoiljkovic, Marija Obradovic

Centre backs: Kristina Liscevic, Tamara Georgijev, Jovana Kovacevic

Right backs: Jelena Zivkovic, Andjela Janjusevic, Marina Dmitrovic

Right wings: Katarina Krpez Slezak, Zeljka Nikolic

Line players: Marija Petrovic, Sladjana Pop-Lazic


TEXT: Nemanja Savic / ts
 
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