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01.11.2018, 13:50
“If I did not believe we could win it all, I would not be here”
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FEATURE: One of the best playmakers in the game, Andrea Lekic, opens up about her move to CSM Bucuresti, her ambitions for this season and changes in the Romanian side
 

“If I did not believe we could win it all, I would not be here”

A staple of consistency, Andrea Lekic’s name has been synonymous with the Women’s EHF Champions League over the past ten years.

The 31-year old Serbian playmaker has never scored fewer than 55 goals in a season over the past ten years in Europe’s top flight, but has only won it once, while completing a star-studded lineup for Györ in 2013.

A move to CSM Bucuresti was the natural thing to do for a player hungry for another trophy, as the Romanian side shapes up to be a true powerhouse that could become the main challenger this season if everything clicks.

“Since I was presented with their project, I knew that I was making the right decision to join CSM. They have the highest ambitions, as do I. Therefore, it was easy to join this project,” says Lekic in an exclusive interview for ehfCL.com.

But there are challenges, hurdles to overcome, chemistry to be developed and everything takes time in a new team, with a plethora of new players, as is CSM’s situation.

“The objective is clear: winning it all. If I did not believe in this, that we could not do it, well, it is easy: I would not be here,” adds Lekic.

An unexpected change

CSM’s start has been rocky, to say the least, as three defeats, including one against SG BBM Bietigheim in Group D’s second round, prompted a coaching change after only three months.

Serbian Dragan Djukic replaced Magnus Karl Johansson as CSM’s coach and that meant the counter was reset and another adaptation period started.

“The new coach is Serbian, like me, but we did not work previously, therefore it is something new for me too. He has a new system, which we must adapt to quickly.”

“The past is the past, now we must focus on the future and leave behind what did not work. Time is not on our side, but we must have patience and be smart. If we focus on the task at hand, we definitely will progress. The winter break will help us a little, because there is little time to focus on training, we have a hectic schedule right now,” explains Lekic.

Two stars in the same backcourt

Lekic has enjoyed her best start to the competition in years, scoring 22 goals for CSM in the first three rounds, only four fewer than the top goal scorer, teammate Cristina Neagu.

Indeed, her partnership with Neagu could prove lethal later in the season, as Lekic’s creativity and agility complements the Romanian’s powerful shots and strength.

“Cristina is certainly the best left back in the world and surely one of the top players right now. I remember an interview which I did several years ago and I was saying that I would like to play alongside her. Now we share the same court with other excellent players and we have to become a great team,” adds Lekic.

Amazing fans for CSM

Four years at Krim, followed by two seasons at Györ and five at Vardar helped Lekic build an impressive CV, as the Serbian playmaker became one of the most respected and cherished figures in women’s handball.

Following Bella Gullden at CSM was always going to be a tough task for a player, especially in front of a picky Romanian audience, yet Lekic is becoming a fan favourite, as CSM’s die-hard devotees are queuing for 30 minutes to take a selfie or have their shirts signed by the Serbian star.

“If there is a thing I like most in Bucharest, it is the audience. You really feel like a handball player when you entertain a full arena and that was the feeling against FTC, in the first game of the season. It was amazing and I cannot wait for the other games,” acknowledges Lekic, who underlines that she settled well in Bucharest.

“Having several ex-teammates from Vardar and another players who are speaking the same language surely helped and we hope to show what we are made of during this season,” concluded the 31-year old centre back.

The Balkan connection has been accomplished by Djukic’s appointment, but Lekic underlines that the sheer will and determination of players like her, Jovanka Radicevic and Dragana Cvijic could help CSM win their second Women’s EHF Champions League in four seasons.

“We did not back down in a tough moment in the game against Vipers, it was there to be seen and I think it was a signal for what is to come,” added Lekic.

One thing is sure: if CSM is to challenge for the trophy, then they will need Lekic to be at 100% and click with Neagu, Cvijic, Kurtovic, Radicevic or Mehmedovic, both in attack and defence.

“I hope you all saw the potential of this team,” concludes Lekic.


TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / cor
 
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