Aleksandar Brković: “The biggest match of their careers”Article
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Partizan Beograd coach Aleksandar Brković talks about their next VELUX EHF Champions League away match at THW Kiel.

“The biggest match of their careers”

Partizan Beograd coach Aleksandar Brković is extremely looking forward to next Sunday. His team will be playing their VELUX EHF Champions League away match at THW Kiel.

Even though the Serbian champions currently do not have any points in their account, competing in the VELUX EHF Champions League is a priceless experience for his young players says Brković. Speaking to Brković talks about his team and the improvements they have made by playing in the top handball club competition in the world. Before Round 5 of the VELUX EHF Champions League, Partizan is still waiting for their first point. How do you rate your matches from the first four rounds?

Aleksandar Brković: From the sports side and as a coach, I am very disappointed since we do not have any points yet, but I am still very realistic because the opponents are really great, with many years of experience in playing big matches. In previous matches we had good moments, when we played well, but we also made a lot of mistakes which, in fact, was the biggest problem. Our opponents used those situations and punished us mercilessly. I believe we will reduce errors and increase the chances for a better result. How is the international development of your players?

Aleksandar Brković: Participating in the VELUX EHF Champions League and playing these matches means a lot in terms of strength, growth and development of our young players. Only two of our players have experience of playing in the VELUX EHF Champions League while others are debutants in this competition.

Playing against players like Karabatic, Hansen, Jicha, Omeyer, Hvidt, Ruesga and others gives them a new experience and increases their quality. They do not have these possibilities in the Serbian league, which means that those 10 matches in a group and the two qualifying matches for sure are the biggest so far in their careers. We all hope these 12 matches are just the beginning for them. What lesson did you and your team learn from those games?

Aleksandar Brković: It is obvious that we are still learning, because we still repeat our mistakes. In all four matches we made almost the same mistakes, but the fact is that sometimes the quality of our opponents forced us to make these mistakes.

We try very hard and work on reducing these mistakes to a minimum and to have better and more successful performance in the upcoming matches. Hopefully in the next games, and if not, we will try it in the next season. First of all, I hope that we will not look at our opponents so respectfully, because they are all made of “flesh and blood” as we are. Of course with due respect to everyone, we will admit who is better after 60 minutes of struggle on the court.  Was it a problem for your team to have the home matches in Vrsac?

Aleksandar Brković: Well I would not say that was the problem, although certainly this is not a hall in which we used to play, even less to train and prepare. We had great hosts in Vrsac, which everyone will have a chance to experience during the EHF EURO 2012 also, but still this was not it.

The big problem was a small number of fans to which we are not used to, but we hope that in Belgrade we will be much better. We thank our hosts in Vrsac of course, but we are waiting for Belgrade and the famous Pionir Hall.  Do you feel a certain handball euphoria in Belgrade, some weeks before the start of EHF EURO?

Aleksandar Brković: With approaching of the EHF EURO 2012, the excitement grows. Starting from 100 days from the beginning of EHF EURO 2012 on every 10 days there is a countdown in the host cities.

On that day next to the Adidas big red handball ball and a big clock which shows how much time is left to the beginning of the championship, big promotions are organised gathering a large number of fans, children, mini handball players showing their skills and all that attracts large numbers of people for which we hope will follow the championship, get into the hall to support their players.

In any case Serbia likes handball and we are all contributing in promotion of handball and success of our national team.  Did your club have any advantages from the EHF EURO campaign until now?

Aleksandar Brković: We did not feel any advantage of the EHF EURO 2012 campaign. Maybe we can say that organization of EHF EURO 2012 had more benefits from us because our first VELUX EHF Champions League match in Vrsac represented in many levels an announcement of the EHF EURO 2012. Your team will play at Kiel in the next match - what are your expectations concerning the atmosphere?

Aleksandar Brković: Kiel is one of the biggest clubs, with top players, fantastic coach and there is no need to waste any words in explaining the greatness of THW Kiel.

When you mention THW Kiel to people in Serbia, who do not follow handball as much, they know who they are. We will do our best to compete in the best possible way and to show ourselves in a good light and we’ll see what happens.

We know that we are not a threat to anyone, especially THW Kiel, but what I can promise is a brave play, no calculations, and a great fight. THW Kiel players have two arms and two legs; they run and jump as we do - so I believe we will keep this in mind when we get into the match.  Momir Illic plays in Kiel - is it something special to face a Serbian player or has it become normal?

Aleksandar Brković: For Momir Ilic and Milutin Dragicevic it is probably not easy to play against teams of their countries but they are great professionals and they do not think about that. Against Leon we faced Dalibor Cutura and against Montpellier it was Mladen Bojinovic, but there is no difference for us between players and their nationality, because we all fight for ourselves and our clubs and it is the only right way.

We are all professionals and that is how we act. The only unfortunate moment is that they can understand what we say to each other during the match so they can hear what we agreed. How will your tactics in Kiel look like?

Aleksandar Brković: I cannot wait to get on Gerflor of Sparkassen-Arena and to apply the planned tactic successfully. It will certainly be very difficult, because I believe that players and coaches from THW Kiel will disagree with me. With smart and precise play in attack, with a small number of errors and solid and hard defence we can hope for good results.

Will it be enough not to lose it I cannot say, because it is still more realistic for the host to win, but we will never enter any match with the idea of losing with less and the same is with this one.  Partizan has a great name in handball history. What has remained from this history today?

Aleksandar Brković: Partizan as a general name in the world of sport is great, and of course in handball. In recent years, due to the transition in the country, the club accepted the modern trends of business and is one of the few that is modern and operates similar to the big European clubs.

Of course, the financial comparison is unrealistic, but in organizational terms Partizan is forwarding with huge steps. Currently, this is a young and promising team, with a few older, more experienced players and this combination proved to be very good.

Since Serbia is currently in difficult financial situation, Partizan turned to the creation of Partizan players from our famous handball school, now accounting for more than a thousand boys and every year in the first team we have some very interesting young players from the Partizan Handball School.

We hope that this experience of playing in the VELUX EHF Champions League will help them to be better and for young people who come to be even more motivated to work and train harder so that one day they win in the VELUX EHF Champions League.

TEXT: Björn Pazen