Krim's focus purely on handballArticle
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NEWS REPORT: Tone Tiselj and his players have done their homework ahead of the main round and hope to compensate for departures from the squad

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Krim's focus purely on handball

Tone Tiselj grabbed the thick stack of binded paper and showed it to the assembled members of the press. “We are ready, motivated and prepared,” was the assurance of the Krim coach before the start of the main round of the Women's EHF Champions League Main Round.

However, the main theme of the last media conference before the match with Larvik on Saturday was not revolving around sporting matters.   

The perennial Slovenian champions have reached the second stage with minor problems, but after winning Group C general optimism resonated throughout the club and a place in the Women’s EHF FINAL4 was often mentioned. 

But things have changed in the past few months, and not necessarily for the better.

Four players have left the roster. The Krim of spring 2014 will have to make do without Linnea Thorstensson of Sweden, Carmen Martin of Spain, Patricia Vizitiu of Romania and Neli Irman.

Irman returned to Zagorje after her loan period expired, the rest have left the club with a terminated contract. While Martin's injury and Vizitiu's general fitness proved to be a continuing and unresolvable issue, Krim's financial setbacks seem to be the root of the problem with Thorstensson.

Interestingly, the Ljubljana outfit will miss Irman the most. The homegrown right winger had been brought in as a support for Katarina Krpež while Martin nursed her injury, but she quickly proved to be as valuable as the Serbian international to say the least.

Krim have confirmed that they are having cash flow problems, which are “mirroring the general dire financial situation in the country,” said club CEO Goran Dujić.

Krim are two months late with payments to the players, however the club is reportedly on top of the situation and Dujić has promised that all debts will be settled at the end of the season at the latest.

Coach Tiselj is not particularly happy that the public's focus in the last days has shifted from the competition to the economics, but you could hardly blame the media for rumours about the destination for current players.

One thing is certain though: Krim will shrink the budget by around 30 per cent in the next campaign, but the coach’s focus was purely on handball.

“I cannot imagine a true sportswoman that wouldn't be motivated by these opponents,” Tiselj described his team's state of mind before the action begins.

“I do not expect any significant impact on the team or tactics, we have worked hard and have prepared ourselves meticulously for all of the powerhouses in our group.

“We all know what Larvik represents in Europe, we have played them in the last two seasons and though they've changed some players, their DNA stays the same. They are an excellent team and we have to be particularly wary of their counter attacks,” admitted Tiselj.

The girls appear not particularly bothered by the situation. Veteran goalkeeper Sergeja Stefanišin was adamant: “Last year we had a good and a bad match with Larvik. We have to repeat the first leg against them. I promise we will leave our hearts on the court.”

Stefanišin will share her responsibilities only with Talida Tolnai, since Jelena Grubišić of Croatia is still recovering her following a long-term knee injury.

Larvik and Krim met in last season’s semi-final. Krim won in Norway 24:22, only to be soundly beated in the return leg (19:27). In the 2011/12 season in Group B Larvik notched two victories (31:19 and 22:19).

“They break really fast, but we are better in 6 vs 6 play. The key will be our attacking discipline. We have to be patient and return to our defense rapidly,” said left-wing Tamara Mavsar, who has, together with her team-mates, carefully studied the contents of that thick binder containing a complete analysis of Krim's opponents in Group 2.

How well the Slovenians will counter Larvik, Györ, and Budućnost remains to be seen.

TEXT: Grega Sever / cor