FEATURE: The Serbian Handball Federation has appointed Spaniard Toni Gerona as new head coach in an attempt to get the men’s team back on track
Gerona to guide Serbia on the way up
The national men’s team of Serbia welcomes a change at the helm as Toni Gerona is taking over as head coach. The team was led for the past two years by Nenad Perunicic.
Gerona has built an admirable record at national team level, guiding Tunisia to three finals in three years of his reign.
The Spaniard led Tunisia to the African Championship title in 2018 and appeared in the final again two years later, while Tunisia also came runners-up at the Mediterranean Games in 2018.
Currently in charge of C’ Chartres MHB in France, Gerona also is a successful club coach. He won the VELUX EHF Champions League in 2005 and the Spanish league in 2006 as assistant coach in Barcelona, where he befriended some legendary Serbian players.
United in support
Gerona worked with the likes of Serbian Handball Federation vice-president Dragan Skrbic, as well as two of the former national team coaches, Nenad Perunicic and Dejan Peric.
“During my work in Barcelona, I had the opportunity to work with Skrbic, Perunicic, Peric, Nenadic. It was an amazing experience for me as a young coach at that time,” said Gerona.
Words of support came from all over the handball world since the move was announced a week ago, with former coach Perunicic stating: “Toni is a great guy, and I will be available to help him in any way. We need to be united in support.”
The national federation’s vice-president Skrbic was the first to introduce his acquaintance to the public.
“I know Toni from the time I played in Barcelona. He is experienced in working and coordinating with all selections, not just leading the senior team,” said Skrbic.
“That was our idea as well. We needed to create a strong base from the very beginning, and he accepted the idea of working that way. Toni offered a clear organizational structure,” Skrbic added.
One of the leading players in the national team, Petar Nenadic, has heaped praise at the new appointment.
“I welcome the change and a new philosophy of handball,” Nenadic said. “I will be happy to be available, if I fit in the plans and vision of the coach.”
Doing everything to move forward
Enjoying big support, Gerona has already set his sights at what he wants to accomplish. For that, he will need to be fully dedicated, as well as demand nothing less from his players.
Gerona has already worked with one member of the current squad, left wing Vanja Ilic, who is playing for Chartres.
“You just have to look at the best leagues in Europe and everything will be clear to you. Many Serbian players play there,” said Gerona. “Watching Metaloplastika and Vojvodina in the SEHA League and the EHF Cup, I discovered some young players who have a great future ahead of them.”
Asked about his mission, Gerona stated he wants “to help the players reach maximum potential. As a goal, the national team must be present in all competitions and improve results.”
Serbia are lacking strong results since winning silver at the EHF EURO 2012. In the following eight years, the team has failed to finish better than 10th place at any major tournament.
“I think that the Spanish experience from previous years can serve well here,” Gerona said. “All with the goal of exchanging experiences, and doing everything to move forward.”
Photo Toni Gerona from rss.org.rs, the official website of the Serbian Handball Federation
TEXT: Nemanja Savic / ew
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