Vardar live up to the hypeArticle
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TOURNAMENT REVIEW: Fleury no match for the star studded Macedonian side in Italy

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Vardar live up to the hype

After a five year absence, FYR Macedonia has a team in the Women's EHF Champions League Group Matches.

Vardar's "dream team" qualified as the winner of their tournament in Italy, beating Fleury Loiret from France by eight goals in the final.

They go to Group D alongside Larvik HK, Balonmano Bera Bera and Podravka Vegeta.

The last time a Macedonian team reached this stage was in 2008/09 when Kometal Gjorche Petrov took part.  This season Skopje will have three teams playing among both men’s and women’s competitions, with both Vardar teams playing, as will HC Metalurg in the men's competition.

Fleury Loiret Handball vs WHC Vardar SBCT - 24:33 (11:18)

The winner of the qualifying duel in Italy was looking clear after just ten minutes when Vardar led 7:2. Vardar right winger Maja Zebic was in fine form along with Jovanka Radicevic, as the Macedonians stretched their lead to 9-2 and then 12-4.

“For the first time this season we played perfect defence. That was the key to our victory. In 60 minutes we know what we want and how to reach the destination.

“We were ready for any attack of the opponent, to stop all their actions. Play as a collective, no matter if someone scores more goals, or plays without scoring.

“The most important thing was to qualify for the group stage,” said Indira Kastratovic, coach of Vardar.

Fleury Loiret had the lead twice at start of the match (0-1, 1-2), but as the game went on Vardar led consistently by seven or eight goals, with the Macedonian team not allowing any relaxation .

“From the first to the last second as the team we played brilliantly, supporting one another. The defence worked without mistakes. Naturally, there was pressure, but we're experienced players and know how to deal with it,” said back court player Julija Nikolic.

Both wings, Jovanka Radicevic and Maja Zebic scored nine goals each for Vardar SCBT, while back court player Fernandez Ibanez scored seven for Fleury Loiret, who must make do with a place in the EHF Cup Winners’ Cup third round.

In the battle for third place, Russian team Rostov-Don beat host Salerno 41:18 (22:8). Both sides will also play in this season’s Cup Winners’ Cup, with Rostov in round 3 and the Italians beginning their campaign one round earlier.

TEXT: Goran Antevski / cor