NEWS REPORT: Outgoing Czech Republic coach waiting on news of Jicha injury as he prepares his team for Serbian challenge
Haber wishes for a successful farewell
Czech Republic look to get back on the right track following their disappointing performance at the EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark and please their fans with a World Championship spot in Qatar. They face EHF EURO 2012 runners-up Serbia, team under fire of criticism following their unsuccessful run at the recent major tournaments.
“Expectations are high. We came last in our group at the EURO and did not represent the country well. We hope we can overcome strong Serbia to regain our lost reputation,” says Vladimír Haber, coach of the national team.
Both teams have met in two friendlies in Czech Republic in November last year. Czechs winning 30:25 and drawing 29:29. However, both teams featured in these matches without their best players, trying new faces for the national team.
“These matches did not reflect the best of both teams. We take into consideration matches from the last EURO, which are for us more significant. Both teams know each other well, so we can expect real handball battle.”
The reverse fixture is scheduled to be played in Brno, fortress for the national team: “We hope to build on our previous performances in Brno and extend the unbeaten run in qualifying matches there,” admits the coach.
Team gathered in Plzeň on 27 May for the first training camp. This was the chance for the young guns of the future to get the taste of the preparations for crucial matches of the season. The squad was then finalised afterwards and met together in Prague on Monday for the final preparations.
“All nominated players have arrived to Prague, except Jícha (THW Kiel). Everyone is fit apart from him. Filip is doubtful following his ankle injury. We gave him time to recover after his participation at the FINAL4 in Cologne last weekend and hope to have him fit by Saturday,“ Haber continues.
Pavel Horák (Füchse Berlin), key man of the Czech defence is declared to be fit following his knee problems. Tomáš Sklenák (Eisenach) remains sidelined with a long-term knee injury.
Czech Republic travels to Niš on Friday, with the first match starting at 21:00 CET on Saturday 7 June, with the second leg in Brno a week later, on Saturday 14 June at 13:50.
“I consider it as an advantage to play the first leg away, as long as we achieve a solid result in Niš. We need to take the lead quickly, then we can hit their weaknesses, with their performance not reaching their heights.”
Serbia with two VELUX EHF Champions League winners from SG Flensburg Nenadić and Radivojević are set to be favourites in the match up.
"Serbia have likes of Ilić (Veszprem - the best scorer of the Champions League season with 103 goals), Vujin (THW Kiel) and others. They are extremely powerful in attack and they can set up attacks from the back very quickly. We will need to take care.”
For the coaching duo of Vladimir Haber and Jaroslav Hudeček, the play-offs will be their last under Czech national team. After taking over in 2012, their current contract expires at the end of the season. Former leaders of the Czech national team, record scorer Jan Filip and defensive pillar Daniel Kubeš will take charge in July.
“Every coach in charge of the national team wants to win his last match in charge. We are facing a tough opponent. Of course, if our opponent plays better, we need to respect their strength.
“I still wish to leave with our heads held high after good job from both coaches and the players, so we can say to ourselves we did everything we could,” concludes Vladimír Haber.
TEXT: Tomas Cuncik / cor
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