From small club to great sensationArticle
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Cimos Koper coach relishing VELUX EHF FINAL4 target.

»EHF CL Channel »2011-12 Men's News

From small club to great sensation

While Atletico Madrid (formerly Ciudad Real) played six times in VELUX EHF Champions League finals, Cimos Koper is on the road to the FINAL4 for the first time. It is a remarkable story of a small club growing into a great sensation!

Koper Handball Club was only formed 50 years ago. Initially an amateur club, in 1992 there was a revival of men's handball on the Slovenian coast. But it was only in the year 2000 that the club entered the second Slovenian league where well known Slovenian company Cimos Koper saw the potential.

They started to invest in the team and the result came two seasons later when, for the first time, Cimos Koper played in the elite Slovenian league in 2002/2003. After winning two Slovenia Cups they reached the ultimate goal by winning the Slovenian Championship last year and the story goes on with VELUX EHF Champions League. spoke about Koper’s new horizons with coach Fredi Radojkovič. You did not stop believing in your team to keep winning in the VELUX EHF Champions League?

Fredi Radojkovič: When we reached the quarter-finals we were really proud, after the draw it seemed almost impossible to resist Atletico Madrid. Before the first game in Koper I said one sentence to my players.

"Everyone talked last year about how we are not able to win the Slovenian Championship but we won on three fronts. This year they said how we cannot play in Europe! Can you see us? We are playing in the quarter-finals against Madrid! Are we crazy? Are we lucky? If these two seasons are successful because of luck, I will stop my work after this year and start buying lottery tickets!” My boys believed in themselves and defeated the big Atletico. Do you think they underestimated you?

Fredi Radojkovič: I would not say this because Talant Dushebayev is one of the best coaches and would not allow it. Maybe in their subconscious they felt strong against us and did not play as well as they can.

From minute to minute we played better and better they felt terrible, I guess. We took advantage of the circumstances and stopped their key players, and got the result. You have a three-goal advantage – is it enough for the second leg?

Fredi Radojkovič: If we won by 10 goals, it would not be enough. In handball everything is possible. For us victory is important from the mental view. We have already had superb results this season. Does your team have enough strength and motivation to win the tie?

Fredi Radojkovič: Motivation is something they do not lack. Did you see how the players celebrated after winning in Koper? They were like little children. This is motivation; wish, determination to play once again and show our quality.

Strength? For sure Atletico has more players to choose from as we do not have such depth. But we showed against Kielce, Hamburg and others what we can do even if we are not complete. In your eyes, what does the success in the VELUX EHF Champions League this season mean for you and for the future?

Fredi Radojkovič: Last year we won three titles, this year we will gain none. But the achievement of reaching this phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League is above all other achievements. 

Our ranking is important for us, for the club’s future and for Slovenian handball. Since 2004 there has not been such success.

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TEXT: Maja Mastnak