“We will be fighting until the end,” says EklemovicArticle
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INTERVIEW: Plock's former Veszprem player shares his thoughts on defeating his former club and what his side has to do to repeat the trick this weekend

“We will be fighting until the end,” says Eklemovic

In a truly exciting ehfTV.com Match of the Week last Sunday, Orlen Wisla Plock surprised many, Veszprem especially, with a tough and spirited display to take a 34:33 win in the first leg of the VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16, and many would argue that there could have been more than one goal between the sides. 

However, this fight is not over yet and Plock will have to play out of their skin once again if they are to hold on to their narrow lead. One man who knows this as well as any is Nikola Eklemovic. The former Veszprem player has been with the Oilers since 2011 and undoubtedly gave a fantastic performance in the first leg. He looks ahead with a big appetite for the second leg in Hungary.

ehfCL.com: What did you feel after Orlen Wisła Plock’s victory over your ex-club from Veszprem?

Nikola Eklemovic: I was very happy of course and we still have a chance to go through to the next round. However, we surely have to be prepared for this second leg because we are playing away and we still need to fight and play hard. 

ehfCL.com: How would you describe the first leg from your point of view? 

Nikola Eklemovic: The game was very dynamic and we played goal by goal. In the second half we were effective and we even had a score 26:22 at one point. At the end we won by one goal, but we showed that this difference could have been bigger. 

We still need to concentrate and be totally focused on the second leg. We have next 60 minutes ahead and we will be fighting until the end.

ehfCL.com: You spent seven seasons in MKB Veszprem as a key player. What kind of welcome do you expect from the fans?

Nikola Eklemovic: I am looking forward for this game because I have very good contact with my fans in Veszprém. I am playing at a Polish club, but still we still have very good relations. We won many titles together, this cannot be forgotten even if you play in the other club. 

Furthermore, it was very nice when they came to Płock last Sunday and they were calling my name. It shows that they remember me in a very nice and friendly way. 

ehfCL.com: What are your best and worst memories from your days at the club?

Nikola Eklemovic: Veszprem is without a doubt one of the best handball clubs in Europe and even in the world. Since 2000, Veszprem have been playing a very high level of handball. 

One can find there very good players such as Laszlo Nagy, Renato Sulic, Momir Ilic or Mirko Alilovic and in the past for example Marko Vujin or my Romanian friend, who I will never forget, Marian Cozma. 

My best memories from this club include winning the Cup Winners’ Cup in 2008 against Rhein-Neckar Löwen and the worst one is when we lost to Portland San Antonio in the semi-final of the Champions League in 2006.

ehfCL.com: Do you still have contact with your ex-teammates? 

Nikola Eklemovic: Yes, we are still in contact. Most of them still play there and we will hopefully meet again for this match, but we speak regularly and meet when we have time.

ehfCL.com: On Saturday you and your team will face MKB-MVM Veszprém again, this time as the guests. What are your chances of reaching the quarter-finals?

Nikola Eklemovic: As I have already said, we are still in the game and that gives us hope. We have a hard game ahead but we will not give up. I think that if we will play at the level we played last time, we have a chance to defeat Veszprém, even at home with their great fan support.

ehfCL.com: Which teams in your opinion will reach this season’s VELUX EHF FINAL4?

Nikola Eklemovic: I am not used to thinking so far ahead. In that case, nothing is sure. That is why we fully focus on our game and our goals. I am not even close to guessing or assuming who will reach the FINAL4.

TEXT: Kate Pankowska / cor