In-form Ilić relishes Kiel reunionArticle
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FEATURE: The highest scorer still active in the VELUX EHF Champions League is enjoying a revival at Veszprem looking forward showing it against old friends in Cologne

In-form Ilić relishes Kiel reunion

When MKB-MVM Veszprém meets THW Kiel on 31 May in LANXESS Arena, it will mark a special occasion for a very special player. Momir Ilić will take part in what will be his fourth VELUX EHF FINAL4, facing none other than his former club.

During his four fruitful years in Schleswig-Holstein, the Serbian-born left back lifted the coveted VELUX EHF Champions League trophy on two occasions, wearing colours of the German powerhouse.

It took little to no time for the experienced left back to settle at his new club MKB-MVM Veszprém before it all came together and resulted in a string of excellent performances, which lead them to the final showdown of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne.

Rejuvenated Ilić spoke openly to about his decision to leave the Bundesliga giant for the Hungarian top-flight at the end of last season.

“It’s good to make a change sometimes. It felt the right choice to join such an ambitious team, from the very start.

“The lesser intensity of Hungarian league, and proximity to Serbia allows me more leisure time to spend with my family,” said Moša, who could not hide delight with his current life in Hungary.

The experienced left back was also full of praise for his new coach, Carlos Ortega: “Ortega is a quality coach. He keeps everything under control. It’s the ‘Spanish school’ that rules European handball right now, and we enjoy his methods here at Veszprém.”

Moša has always been a player who gave his utmost for every club he represented throughout his illustrious career. Whether it was VfL Gummersbach, THW Kiel or MKB-MVM Veszprém, Momir is the go-to guy for every task. A player of such importance must then know all the strengths and weaknesses of his former team.

“You will have to work really hard to exploit any liability in Kiel’s game. The handball they play is simple, yet very effective. It’s the beauty in simplicity which brings the best result,” admitted Ilić, a connoisseur of THW Kiel’s handball mastery.

Keeping it tight

Ilić could not find a particular weakness of his former team to highlight. Rather, the ex-THW Kiel man had a few strengths of his current team to praise: “Veszprém harnesses a very tough, strong defence. Strong defence is a hugely important part of our game, and that’s exactly what we intend to throw at Kiel from the very first minute.”

Ilić was quick to stress the key to the victory could well be in MKB-MVM Veszprém’s hands, praising team’s cohesion.

“If we manage to keep things tight at our end defensively, and play wisely, the match can go in our favour.

“It’s our first season here, but we have developed such a strong understanding. It feels like we have been playing together for many years,” said the highest scoring player left in this season’s competition, with 91 goals.

Moša, who in 2012 enjoyed one the most successful seasons in THW Kiel’s history, is considered a club legend and has obviously had some memorable times in the city in north Germany.

“Those were fantastic four years- we share some wonderful memories,” said Moša about his four trophy-laden seasons at the Sparkassen-Arena.

“I am looking forward to the FINAL4. Not only to the game, which is going to be excellent, but to see my old friends again.

“I have a great friendship with Sigurdsson, who I know back from our days at Gummersbach. I am also looking forward to see Filip Jicha, my roommate at THW, we’ll have a lot to talk about. We won’t be discussing handball. Ok, maybe a little bit,” joked Moša: “we will have a get-together before the FINAL4, have a cup of coffee and some catching-up, just like we did in Kiel.”

Family in focus

When a player has represented sides gracing the very top of European handball, one must draw comparisons to off-court relationships, within teams boasting such a plethora of talent.

“It’s different here in Veszprém”, said the 32 year-old, about his life away from the playing court.

“I enjoy the company of Renato Sulić and László Nagy, as well as (Chema) Rodriguez, both on and off the court. But we are much more focused on our family life here.

“I am pleased to have more time to spend with my family now, and that Serbia is only a few hours’ drive away, so I try to be there as much as possible,” concluded Ilić amicably, giving a clue of the factors contributing to his lethal form, playing his first season for the Hungarian side.

TEXT: Nemanja Savic / cor