Knežević: No-one will underestimate usArticle
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Budućnost centre back Milena Knežević hails her team's spirit after the reigning champion's opening victory

»EHF CL Channel »2012-13 Women's News

Knežević: No-one will underestimate us

Despite many changes in personnel in the summer, reigning champions Budućnost got their defence of the Women's EHF Champions League off to a cracking start when they secured a strong victory against Russian Zvezda Zvenigorod. The win showed their rivals that they will be no pushovers despite having a new, young team.

Budućnost's centre back Milena Knežević talked to about their great start to the season and ambitions for this year's the EHF Champions League.
Milena Knezevic and Bojana Popovic- 250px Before the game with Zvezda Zvenigorod, your coach Dragan Adžić pointed out that the Russian team were favourites, but it looked different on court. Did you expected such an easy victory?
Milena Knežević: Well, Zvezda were favourites because they have a very good team. But we didn’t allow them to justify the role of favourite on the court. We prepared very well for the game, and from the start we showed them who's boss. As the game progressed, we played better and better. We expected to win, but we thought they would give us more resistance. They didn't know how to cope with our aggressive defence. And we played well in attack, too. After a lot of changes in the team this summer, not many people expected such a good start. What kind of message you have sent to all rivals in Europe? How far can this new team go?
Milena Knežević: Although we made lot of changes in the team compared to last season, we managed quite well to get it right. I'm sure that now everybody will have a different opinion of us, and prepare for games against us more seriously, because I am sure that many have underestimated us. With 11 goals you are the best scorer after first round of EHF Champions League. Did you expect such a scoring performance in the first game?
Milena Knežević: Honestly I didn’t, but that's just the way the game went. There were a lot of opportunities for me and I've taken them quite well. In the next game, perhaps, there will be someone else to score more goals. It will depend on the opponent's defence. You are not new to scoring so many goals, as you were the best scorer at the Youth European Championship in Slovakia in 2007 and third highest scorer at the Junior World Championship in South Korea in 2010. After the departure of Katarina Bulatović and Bojana Popović's retirement, do you have a different role in the team with more freedom in attack?
Milena Knežević: It’s certain that me, Anđela Bulatović and other players will have a different job to do than last season. Now we are the ones who bear the burden in attack, while last year we were based more in defence. Two of the best EHF Champions League scorers left the team and we will try to make up for it in some other way. Even though you played as current EHF Champions League winners, against Zvezda the Morača Hall was not completely full. Are you surprised? Do you have any explanation for the lack of real support from your fans?
Milena Knežević: We are sincerely hoping that we will have greater support from the fans, because of all the results that we have had in the past. I think we deserve it. I have nothing else do add. Due to the severe injury to Elena Gjorgijevska against Zvezda, you lost one more player for the Group Phase, since Dragana Cvijić is not yet ready to come back after knee surgery. How much of a handicap is that for your team and how it can affect your plans in reaching the Main Round?
Milena Knežević: It will be definitely harder, because every player is important for us and we are strongest when we're all fit. Elena Gjorgijevska got injured in the fifth minute of the game against Zvezda and it was a huge loss for us. But somehow we managed to overcome that and Jelena Živković played quite well and helps to make up for Gjorgijevska's loss. We want to get to the Main Round and then we'll be at full strength with Cvijić and Gjorgijevska. On Sunday you play in Denmark against Viborg HK, who lost their first game against Thüringer HC. Is this result a surprise for you and what do you expect from that game?
Milena Knežević: I was not at all surprised by that result, I expected Thüringer HC to win because they have a great team and they are a tricky opponent, especially when they are at home, where they have great energy. It will be a tough game in Denmark, since Viborg have a good team. On paper, everyboday in our group is stronger than us and we're not hiding from that fact. But the court will be the main measure of everything. Our main weapon is a fighting spirit and a good defence. In Denmark we will do our best, as always, and after the game we'll see the result.

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TEXT: Saša Jončić