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27.09.2017, 14:10
Stojkovic proud of Brest's rapid progress
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INTERVIEW: Veteran line player Rastko Stojkovic speaks to ehfCL.com about Brest's positive start in the VELUX Champions League and the team's ambitions in Europe
 

Stojkovic proud of Brest's rapid progress

HC Meshkov Brest had a tough schedule at the start of their new VELUX Champions League campaign, yet they handled the pressure well.

In Group B, they beat PGE Vive Kielce at home in their opening game 28:25 and looked decent in the French capital, despite losing to Paris Saint-Germain 32:28 in Round 2.

As usual, experienced line player Rastko Stojkovic was one of Brest's key players in both games. Before the home match against Telekom Veszprém on Saturday 30 September, the 36-year-old Serb gives an exclusive interview to ehfCL.com.

What are your expectations from the game against Veszprém?

Rastko Stojkovic: We know that we do not have a big chance, Veszprém are strong favourites in this game, but we will do our best and try to win, like in the opening group match against Kielce.

We also had a good game in Paris, but it is a bit difficult to beat Paris Saint-Germain on their court. Yet at home, with our fans, I think we have a chance if we play well for 60 minutes.

Would you consider this a positive start for your new campaign?

Rastko Stojkovic: Of course. We earned a big home win against Kielce. It is just the beginning of the season, but so far, we should be satisfied.

Are games against Kielce special for you? After all, you used to play for the Polish side.

Rastko Stojkovic: Definitely I am motivated to play well against my former team, where I spent four years from 2009 to 2013. I think it is a normal thing in sport; but basically all matches are equal, we need to show our best ability in every game.

Did the morale boost after the win against Kielce help Brest to feel more confident in Paris?

Rastko Stojkovic: Sure, when you see that you can achieve something great, like beating a strong rival, it affects you in a very positive way and makes you believe in yourself.

After such a victory, it is much easier to play. However, we did not have a real chance to beat PSG. We lost too many balls and after we went four or five goals down after ten minutes, it was too hard to comeback against such a classy opponent.

What are Brest's ambitions this season in the competition?

Rastko Stojkovic: It depends on luck. We would like to finish fourth or fifth in the group and therefore emulate our success of last season. But many things depend on other teams as well.

Kiel, for example, they have been losing so far, but will they come back from a poor start? So it is not just about ourselves in such a competitive group.

You have been playing for Brest for almost four years. How have the team and the club changed during this period?

Rastko Stojkovic: Obviously the team has grown. When I just arrived, we started the season in qualification. And now we play in one of the toughest groups.

Our progress has been very big and it came very fast. I am proud to be a part of it. Actually not just our game has changed, but the whole organisation. When a club grows, it is not just about the players -- everything around them should be at the same level.

Dainis Kristopans and Pavel Atman left the team in the summer, yet Brest managed to sign a few experienced players. How do you evaluate the summer changes in the squad?

Rastko Stojkovic: Now it is difficult to answer this question. The most important thing is our results; If we play better and win more games, then it means that our squad has become stronger, and vice versa – it is as simple as that.

Who are your favourites to win the VELUX EHF Champions League this season?

Rastko Stojkovic: Paris Saint Germain, Veszprém and Vardar have the best chance to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4. Who will be the fourth? Maybe Barcelona. There are some teams which stand out, but we will see.


TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / cor
 
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