Popović: "Worth coming back"Article
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Budućnost’s top player Bojana Popović is satisfied with moving back to Podgorica.

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Popović: "Worth coming back"

With the victory over Oltchim, Budućnost qualified for the semi-finals of the EHF Women’s Champions League for the first time since 2002.

Interestingly, nine years ago, when Budućnost lost to Hungarian FTC in the semi-finals, Bojana Popović left Podgorica and went to Denmark. With the two clubs Slagelse and then Viborg she won the EHF Champions League five times.

Last year in the summer she returned to Budućnost, and Budućnost returned to the semi-finals of the EHF Champions League.

Bojana Popović, who scored five goals against Oltchim, and in total 68 in this CL season, talked to ehfCL.com about the victory against the Romanian champions and about the upcoming match against Itxako.

ehfCL.com: Despite the big pressure, you managed to achieve a convincing victory over Oltchim and a place in the semi-finals. What was the recipe for the great victory?

Bojana Popović: Oltchim came to Podgorica with lots of enthusiasm and desire and also with Voina as their new coach. But he couldn’t change anything. We didn’t allow Oltchim to develop their game. Our defence was great, Sanela Knezović was exceptional in goal, and also in attack many players were in a good mood.

ehfCL.com: Last year you played the final of the EHF Champions League against Oltchim with Viborg. What is the difference between last year and the current team from Vâlcea?

Bojana Popović: Oltchim is a team that has more quality players than any other in Europe. However, and I understand those girls, they had three coaches this season. It is difficult to cope with that. Some players prefer the one coach, other players prefer another. They constantly had to adapt to new systems, and they couldn’t do it in a right way.

ehfCL.com: After the second Main Round defeat in Spain against Itxako, Budućnost was far away from the semi-finals. But after the victories in Ljubljana against Krim and the last one at home against Oltchim, everything ended in the best possible way. What caused the positive effect in your two last games?

Bojana Popović: Itxako defeated every team at home and also played a great game against us. In Spain we were not at our level, but at home we played with full strength and vigour. The victory in Ljubljana put us in the position to play the deciding match against Oltchim in an easier way. We knew about the quality of our opponents, but we were not thinking too much about the Romanian team. We were just preparing for our game.

ehfCL.com: The atmosphere in the "Morača" hall was great, the fans made a spectacle which was probably not seen in the last nine years. What are your impressions?

Bojana Popović: It was fantastic, I enjoyed it very much. When you enter the hall to warm up and you can see that the hall is already full, you must be euphoric. And when the "Barbarians" (the ultra fans of Budućnost) began to sing, the atmosphere began to rise to a climax. It’s a specific characteristic for Podgorica. I have missed that over all these years I played abroad. From that perspective it was worth coming back.

ehfCL.com: On Sunday against Itxako you will have the opportunity to conquer first place in the group. Will you try to play to a specific result in order to be able to choose opponents for the semi-finals?

Bojana Popović: No, we will not calculate. All year long we try to win our matches as it strengthens our confidence. Victories maintain the mindset of the team.

ehfCL.com: Will revenge for the defeat in Spain be an additional motive against Itxako?

Bojana Popović: Motivation is always there. We me want to play at the highest level in every game. That will be the case on Sunday, too.

Will Bojana Popović and her Montenegrin team win the last round match and snatch group victory? The decisive battle for winning Group 1 will be broadcast as a free-of-charge live web stream on ehfTV.com.

EHF Women’s Champions League, Main Round, Round 6
Sunday 20 March 2011, 19:30 hrs (local time)
Budućnost Podgorica (MNE) vs. Itxako Reyno De Navarra (ESP)

ehfTV.com is the official Internet TV platform of the European Handball Federation and offers free live streaming as well as a video on demand service.

TEXT: Saša Jončić