INTERVIEW: Roland Mikler may be coming to the end of his time at Szeged, but will be keeping his eye on the ball on the road to Berlin
Win or die trying
After losing the Hungarian Cup final 27:21 to MKB-MVM Veszprém, Pick Szeged are eager to give their fans something to cheer about. The Hungarian runners-up will face Sporting CP in the quarter- finals of the EHF Cup with Roland Mikler in goal, a man determined to say goodbye to Szeged with a nice gift.
Two months is the future
The Hungarian national team’s first choice goalkeeper signed to MKB-MVM Veszprém and will join the defending champions in July. Mikler did not even take part in the announcement of his signing, as he told eurohandball.com that he was 100% focused on tasks at hand.
“My time with Szeged is over but I want to thank the team, the city and our marvellous fans for their support by giving my all to Pick’s cause. I want to reach the EHF Cup Finals and show my devotion to the team with a massive performance in Berlin,” said the 29-year-old.
Mikler was his team’s best player in the Hungarian Cup final showing that he did not see his last period in Szeged as a paid holiday.
First or third, but not second
“There will be four great teams in Berlin and we feel we are strong enough to compete with them. Winning our group was a good achievement though we needed a bit of luck for that,” Mikler said about Tatran Presov’s victory over HBC Nantes in the last round.
“Reaching the final in Berlin would be awesome, but I always say I’d rather be first or third but not second. I hate losing but I especially hate losing a final, because it means you went all the way but stumbled when you really shouldn’t have.”
Pick have had a roller coaster season. They went down against Metallurg in the VELUX EHF Champions League Qualification, but beat Veszprém and are neck and neck with their arch rivals in the Hungarian league. Szeged at their best play magnificent handball but tend to lose focus and unexplainably throw away games they had had strong control over.
“This could be down to the fact that our new coach, Juan Carlos Pastor is still building his team. He is a genius, a real master of handball who we were lucky to learn from but his mazy tactics are hard to follow and even harder to train for.
“He thoroughly analyses every opponent and hands out precise tasks to everybody about every formation, every situation and what’s more, every step the opponent takes,” explained Mikler, who thinks Pastor will need some more time to build a team to his taste.
“One thing is for sure: we will go through the rest of the season, and hopefully to Berlin, with total awareness of our opponents’ strengths, weaknesses and possible tools to exploit them.”
Mikler claims it would be a huge blow for Szeged to miss out on the Berlin event but feels Szeged is strong enough to get there: “We may not be favourites to win the trophy but we weren’t expected to win our group either. I am a natural born competitor, hard tasks tend to get the best out of me and I feel I share this skill with a lot of my teammates at Pick.”
He knows the odds are against them, but that means nothing in sport: “Coming up against either one of the French teams or Füchse Berlin on home court would be a huge mountain to climb, but it’s only normal to struggle if you aim for the top. You know what they say: win or die trying.”
TEXT: Bence Mártha / cor
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