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22.09.2017, 13:00
Maqueda set for clash with former club Nantes
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FEATURE: Jorge Maqueda and Vardar aim for a win in their first home match of the season, as they prepare to face a Nantes side strengthened by the arrival of goal machine Kiril Lazarov.
 

Maqueda set for clash with former club Nantes

Winning the VELUX EHF Champions League trophy brings additional pressure for Macedonian side HC Vardar, as the country has high expectation at the start of the new season.

The current title holders maintained last season’s winning streak when they celebrated a 26:22 away victory against Orlen Wisla Plock in the opening match of the Champions League 2017/18. Vuko Borozan and Arpad Sterbik were key players in the hard-fought clash on Sunday, leading the team to the win.  

“We demonstrated a very good game against Wisla Plock. They are a great team, but we did our job well because we were concentrated during the entire match. Our defence was very good and Arpad Sterbik was once more unbeatable. Thanks to these elements we won the first two points in the group,” says Jorge Maqueda.

On Saturday, the defending champions will play their first home match of the season against Maqueda’s former side HBC Nantes. Before joining Vardar, the Spanish back spent three seasons with the French team.  

“The team changed since I left them and this year they are with a little bit of a different squad. They play very good both in offence and defence and, in addition, I can notice that [Cyril] Dumoulin and several other players are in very good shape,” says Maqueda.

“We must show great fight once more and be concentrated 100% if we want to win the first home match and bring positive emotions for our supporters.”

Plock-Vardar_Borozan_565

Defence is the key to success

HBC Nantes also started the new season with a victory – 30:26 over MOL-Pick Szeged. The French team has been strengthened by the arrival of Macedonian scoring machine Kiril Lazarov, who scored an uncharacteristic two goals in his debut Champions League match for his new team.

However, Maqueda believes that Lazarov will put on a completely different performance on Saturday:

“I think that Nantes back court players have to play a little bit more for Lazarov because he is very good player.

“Over the years, Lazarov gained enormous experience in the Champions League. He demonstrated very good goal efficiency for Barcelona. With this signing Nantes can only go a step further in the Champions League.”

The strongest point for the defending VELUX EHF Champions League title holders last season was their defence. With the arrival of Vardar’s new acquisition, Dainis Kristopans, Maqueda believes that his team’s defence will be even better.

“Not just our team, but I think all the teams that aim for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 must play great in defence. Our goal is the same again and we will try to repeat last year’s performance,” says Maqueda.

Although it is still the beginning of the season, Maqueda is positive when it comes to the future of the team and their goals for 2017/18:

“We have more pressure this year because once you win the title, the goal for the next season is to defend it. But we are professional players and we have to handle the expectations of our fans and of course give our best in order to play once more in Cologne.”


TEXT: Amina Idrizi / cg
 
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