German international talks to ehfCL.com before the away match of her club Thüringer HC at Zvezda
Nadgornaja: More handball than translating
Born in Kiev, grown-up in Düsseldorf, German citizen with Ukrainian and Belarusian roots: Nadja Nadgornaja’s mother languages are Russian and German. But before the away match of her club Thüringer HC at Russian side Zvezda Zvenigorod, the German international is sure that her main task will be handball, not translating.
After winning their first ever match in Women’s EHF Champions League Nadgornaja and her team keep the feet on the floor, as she says in this interview with ehfCL.com.
ehfCL.com: How did you celebrate the victory against Viborg HK, the first one ever in the EHF Champions League history of Thüringer HC?
Nadja Nadgornaja: We were full of joy, but there was no party afterwards. Currently we have the hardest time of the year with German league matches on Wednesday and Champions League matches on the weekend, so we know that we cannot do a big party. But of course we were pleased not only with our first points ever, but especially by the dominant way we played. But we knew that we directly had to switch to league – and we were successful in our Wednesday’s match. We know that the Bundesliga for us is highly important, as only by a good result in this competition we can qualify again for the Women’s EHF Champions League.
ehfCL.com: In the past season you tied once and lost five matches mostly clearly. What has changed in your team?
Nadja Nadgornaja: We have matured by the competition and our team has become stronger – I believe that we know arrived in the Champions League with our bodies and our heads. Our first goal was to win one match – this is what we already reached in our opener. Now we want to see what chances we have to proceed to the Main Round. Of course we have to focus on our home matches in this tough group, and we know hat it is even at home not easy to beat teams like Budućnost or Zvezda. So we keep the feet on the ground, we will not overestimate this opening victory, as we all know that it is simply impossible for a German team to dream of the Champions League finals. We do not think we are the kings or queens now, we give our best in the five upcoming matches and then we see if it was enough to reach the next stage or not.
ehfCL.com: Did you expect the clear 29:21 victory of Budućnost against Zvezda in your group?
Nadja Nadgornaja: I expected Budućnost to win, but not by this clear result. I watched the match on ehfTV.com and I was really surprised by the strength of Budućnost. But especially in our group everybody knows about the significance of home matches.
ehfCL.com: Do you fear that Zvezda will take revenge on you and your team in the upcoming match?
Nadja Nadgornaja: Zvezda are under big pressure now, as they need to beat us, but what can you do if you only have one week time to change? At the end of the day, it is simply handball. Of course we know about the physical strength of Zvezda, of course we know that they are the favourite, but I do not really care. Wait and see what we are able to!
ehfCL.com: As Russian is your second mother language – will you have to focus on translating during your trip?
Nadja Nadgornaja: No, I still think that my main task in Chekhov will be to play handball. Of course I will help in some organisational matters, but first of all handball is my job.
ehfCL.com: You mentioned the tough six weeks of the Group Matches with games every three or four days – is it a burden or a challenge for you?
Nadja Nadgornaja: At first it is a challenge as we have the great opportunity to be part of this competition and to face the best European teams, but from the physical point of view, of course, it is a burden. But our coach Herbert Müller exactly knows how much time we need to recover and how much time we need to train in this period. It makes me proud to play in the Champions League, and after we nearly lost every match in the past season, we are eager to show our abilities – and additionally it is a great fun to play in full halls against top players, despite the travelling stress. This is what we worked for the whole last season to be again among those 16 teams.
TEXT: Björn Pazen / br