No miracle elixir found for KoldingArticle
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BLOG: ehfTV commentator Tom O Brannagain predicts a big time coming for Metalurg after he witnessed how they dealt with a fierce Kolding's defence in the Match of the Week.

No miracle elixir found for Kolding

"To improve is to change, to perfect is to change often". I cannot attribute the quote to anyone, but it certainly cannot be attributed to Kolding.

The fact is that under three separate coaches this season, the same players and style has been adhered to. Plan A, you might call it, with no plan B.

The net result is, that the Kolding players look tired, exhausted and out on their feet. They have been overused and finally overcome.

They welcomed Metalurg, a team with a 6 goal cushion, to the Trefor, hoping that the close quarter crowd and intimidating atmosphere could, somehow, galvanise an astonishing comeback. It wasn't to be.

Shell of a team, shadow of players

There was no miracle elixir, no panacea for the Kolding team. All that remained at the end of 60 minutes was the shell of a team, a shadow of the players who stunned us all with a second place finish in their group.

The fact is, that not having given the younger players at the club, excluding Andersson, a chance during their CL run, they had nowhere to turn when the more established stars just couldn't find the rhythm of the game.

Metalurg contributed greatly to this, playing long attacks, delaying tactics and generally falling down whenever the opportunity arose. Had this been a boxing contest, the towel would have been thrown in, as player after player from Metalurg, collapsed, writhing in agony, to take an 8 count.

It destabilised Kolding and the crowd. The crowd's intensity turned to actually condemning Metalurg players and not to supporting their team.

You have to wonder at the tactics of the Skopje team. There is no doubt that they are masters at what they do, but rather than focusing on some of their more sumptuous play, we will remember the simulation tactics. Of all the players who rolled in agony on the floor, Atman being the greatest culprit, only Georgievski was truly hurt, and we wish him the best in his recovery should it be a serious injury.

Oh boy, can they play

For all that, Metalurg can play, oh boy can they play. The sign of a great team is that the opposition fans secretly and grudgingly admire them and the way in which they play.

Metalurg will not be receiving any fan mail from outside their own hardcore fans. The neutrals may not support them, but they are a match for anyone. 42 attacks yielded 30 goals.

Their power and bursts of speed are punishing to oppositions and they feinted their way around the slow footed Kolding defence. Scoring 30 goals, away from home and against one of the meanest defences in CL handball is no mean feat.

Vugrinec got another 10. Atman scored 9, two of which were scored whilst short handed by two players. He was sensational. He produced a display that was unheralded and unexpected. Cindric is the buy of the season. He is already a star and looks like he has played at Metalurg all his life.

When you compare him to Lasse Andersson, who burst onto the scene in a hail of glory, Cindric has completely eclipsed him as an all round player.

His arrival, which flew somewhat beneath the radar is slowly being noted and a Kempa goal was a just reward for his teams and his all round play.

Stanic has found that loving feeling for Metalurg again. He was outstanding at crucial times and was also helped by the wayward shooting of the Kolding team. And he smiled during the game, knowing that the win was achieved very early.

Wily old fox

Make no mistake, Metalurg fully deserved this win. Their team play both ends of the court is masterful and that wily old fox Cervar is a wolf in sheeps clothing. He just knows exactly how to prepare his team and they know exactly what he wants them to do. His school master appearance masks a tactical genius and ingenious mind.

The game was drab as a contest, albeit there was some great play, but there is no doubting the innate ability of the Macedonians to punch above their weight. They are a problem team for anyone who might draw them. After a second season reaching the last eight, they might not yet be a contender, but they are certainly among the heavyweights of Europe.

TEXT: Tom O Brannagain, ehfTV commentator