FEATURE: Slovenian goal machine is all about the team effort this weekend at the EHF Cup Finals
Gajic: “You don’t play a final, you win it”
With 53 goals, Montpellier right wing Dragan Gajic is the third highest scorer of the EHF Cup, seven behind Pedro Caseiro, from Sporting CP.
While he is certain to finish as the best scorer in the French league, the Slovenian has every opportunity to add another accolade to his record, but remains very careful ahead of this weekend’s EHF Cup Finals: "This is not a priority for me. The most important thing this weekend is to win the title with the team, and if the best scorer thing comes along, then that would be amazing. But to be honest, you just taught me that fact, individual performance is not really what I'm paying attention to.”
And while he obviously has a major role on the court, he also is a key element off-court, as he has helped new Slovenian teammates Jure Dolenec and Matej Gaber to settle in their new club last summer: "It almost seems normal to me,” Gajic says. “My teammates were very nice to me when I arrived, and I took pleasure in helping Jure and Matej integrate into the team.
“Of course, for them, it felt natural to turn to me since we knew each other, but no matter who helped, at the end of the day the important thing is that they feel great in Montpellier.”
Feeling great is a fitting term for the pair, as Jure Dolenec has turned into a monster lately, a key element of the squad at just 25, while Gaber has become chief of the defence and has made great progress in attack.
Montpellier is on a tidal wave of confidence at the moment, having lost only two goals in 2014.
"We are in a very positive mind-set. All of the guys are pushing in the same direction. We've had our lot of injuries last year, but now we're on a good run.
“There are three, maybe four games until the end of the season, and we want to win them all. It would mean winning the EHF Cup as well as securing a spot in next season's Champions League,” explains Gajic, who will turn 30 in July.
All depends on the day
However, even their recent record does not make Montpellier a favourite for the EHF Cup Finals. In fact, Dragan Gajic has a hard time picking any, even if MAHB has won all ten games in the competition.
“You might say that we're favourites because we haven't lost in the EHF Cup, but you could also say that Berlin is because they're playing at home.
“I don't think there are any favourites in these finals, it will all depend on the mood of the day, who is injured and who is not. Even the face of the final can be changed at the last moment, if you've had a hard time during the semi-final or if you're tired,” admits the 29-year-old.
Speaking of a hard time in the semi-final, the third highest scorer of the EHF Cup knows Montpellier is going to have exactly that against Constanta.
“This is a team that I know very well,” he says, “they're a tough bunch of guys, maybe more physical than us, and we'll have to play fast to win. If we run throughout the 60 minutes like we have done lately, then we'll have good chances to go to the final.
“Speed is going to be the solution, since they've got a very strong defence, which is able to stop our attacks. If we use fast breaks to push the ball before the defence is settled in, we'll make it.”
When asking Dragan Gajic which team he would rather meet in the final, he simply replies: "No matter who the opponent is, you don't play a final, you win it. There is no choice.”
TEXT: Kevin Domas / cor
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