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21.09.2017, 13:00
200 handballs and many emotions
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FEATURE: Right before facing his former team in Round 2 of the VELUX EHF Champions League, Ljubomir Vranjes settled into his new house in Hungary.
 

200 handballs and many emotions

It is more than symbolic that Ljubomir Vranjes finally opened a new chapter in his life immediately prior to meeting his old friends, colleagues and teammates. Three days before he and his new team, Telekom Veszprém, host Vranjes’ former club SG Flensburg-Handewitt, he moved into his new house, the home for his future.

The 43-year-old Swede – who was awarded IHF Coach of the Year in 2014 – began the second coaching job of his career this summer after 11 years with Flensburg, where he started as a player, then became sports director and finally coach in 2010.

Under his guidance, Flensburg won the Cup Winners’ Cup in 2012 and, sensationally, the 2014 edition of the VELUX EHF FINAL4. Now, Vranjes will combine his club job with coaching the Hungary national team.

“It is something special, meeting the old club of 11 years. There are a lot of players and friends over there. I know what my previous team, Flensburg, is capable of,” says Vranjes prior to the clash with SG on Saturday (17:30 local time, live on ehfTV.com).

Right before the match, the former playmaker (world champion in 1999 and EHF EURO champion in 1998, 2000 and 2002) proved that a part of his heart still beats for his former club as he donated 200 handballs from his own ‘Vranjes 17’ collection to the Flensburg youth academy.

“You cannot forget 11 years. My family and I still have so many friends there, my kids do not know any other city before we moved,” says Vranjes. “So, I want to hand something back and try to help to foster youth handball in Flensburg. The Flensburg academy deserves this donation, as they are doing a great job.”

Vranjes’ former and current players know there will be very special moments for him on Saturday: “Everybody on both sides, and mainly Ljubo of course, is looking forward to this duel. The only problem is both sides want to win,” says Flensburg right wing Lasse Svan, whose teammate Rasmus Lauge is curious, “whether Veszprém will play with Ljubo’s philosophy or if their regular style will be dominant.”

“We know Flensburg very well, mainly thanks to our coach, but also from our previous duels,” says Veszprém wing Dragan Gajic: “It is going to be an interesting game from many aspects.”

His Slovenian teammate Gasper Marguc says: “It will be a special game for us, especially for our coach. This will be the first Champions League game of the season in our own arena. The games against Flensburg are always difficult.”

Both sides won their Group B openers. Flensburg had trouble leaving Aalborg behind, while Veszprém decided the encounter in Celje in the last 10 minutes. Vranjes hopes that his team has learnt their lesson from the Round 1 game:

“I want to improve our defence a little bit more. We need to have a good defence because Flensburg are really fast. In the previous three games we always scored more than 30 goals per game, so I cannot say anything negative about the attack.”


TEXT: Bjorn Pazen / cg
 
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