With a nine-goal margin to their credit, HAC will go into the second leg of the EHF Women's Challenge Cup Final as favourites.
Kresoja: It is not won yet
With a nine-goal margin to their credit, HAC will go into the second leg of the EHF Women's Challenge Cup Final as favourites. But Le Havre player Dragica Kresoja told eurohandball.com they are taking nothing for granted.
ehfeurohandball.com: HAC is a step closer to celebrating victory in the EHF Women's Challenge Cup this weekend. Do you think the second leg against Muratpasa is just a formality?
Dragica Kresoja: To be honest, none of us expected that we would come back from Turkey with a nine-goal lead, but Muratpasa shouldn’t be underestimated. We have a big advantage, but we have to be careful even if we are playing in front of our home crowd. Our target is to repeat the performance from Turkey. I have experience from the past in my time as a player with Naisa, and we played in Challenge Cup finals against Jolidon Cluj Napoca from Romania. In that first game we lost by nine goals, but manage to win the second game by ten, so I think in the second game we need to enter very concentrated and of course to win Challenge Cup.
eurohandball.com: Did you ever dream that you would return from Turkey with a nine-goal lead?
Dragica Kresoja: As I said, none of us ever expected something like that. We went to Turkey aiming to win, knowing that the second leg should be a bit easier at home, because we haven't lost a single game this season in Challenge Cup. But nine goals is good advantage.
eurohandball.com: HAC have played seven matches so far in the EHF Women's Challenge Cup, and won six. Which was your hardest?
Dragica Kresoja: Until the semi-final I really don’t think we had a hard time, as we won almost all the games by 10 goals. But I have to mention our game in Zagreb. At home we won by five goals and went to Croatia more relaxed than normal. The whole game was very tense and Zagreb led during the game, and even overturned our first leg lead at one point. They're a young and aggressive team who really want to beat us. And they did, but thankfully we just manage to go through to next round.
eurohandball.com: Since the beginning of the EHF Women's Challenge Cup, HAC have been among the favourites to win. Has this put pressure on you during the season?
Dragica Kresoja: It’s no surprise that the team are favourites. We feel some pressure to justify expectations as the club has very big ambitions, many people work in and around the team, media coverage is also massive, and every player is under pressure.
ehfCL.com: Were you a bit lucky to end up only playing against clubs from Eastern and Central Europe?
Dragica Kresoja: We could have had an easier path to the finals, and now I hope that we also win the tournament. The only match where we struggled was in Zagreb. I expected a much stronger final and I think it would’ve been better to play Zagreb in the final.
ehfCL.com: The EHF Women's Challenge Cup is the only chance for HAC to play in Europe next season. You missed your chance in the domestic championship to play in finals, so is this your only way to win a trophy?
Dragica Kresoja: Our team have been playing together for two years, and victory will be a big prize. During the season many players have had injury problems, but most important for us is that the team stays together for next year also.
eurohandball.com: How will the club celebrate if you win? This could be your first European trophy!
Dragica Kresoja: Everything is already in place for a big celebration! The people here really live for handball and the city has organised an open bus that will go through the town with the trophy. Even at the beach there will be celebrations with fans and people who are constantly with us. I think it's really a nice experience, but I know my girls will organise something.
TEXT: Goran Antevski
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