Battle on the wings in Skopje showdownArticle
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FACE TO FACE: Two free-scoring wings, Dibirov and Marguc, will be keeping an eye on each other in a crucial encounter in the VELUX EHF Champions League

Battle on the wings in Skopje showdown

With VELUX EHF Champions League returning after the break, a much anticipated clash will take place in Skopje.

Top spot in Group C is at stake as Veszprem travel to Vardar hoping to sustain their undefeated streak. But it will be a huge challenge in front of the partisan home crowd, which will once more play a role of the eighth player for Vardar.

It is expected that details will shift the balance to one side or the other and there will be a few interesting duels which could be decisive.

One of them will certainly happen near the sideline where left wing Timur Dibirov (29) of Vardar and right wing Gasper Marguc (24) of Veszprem will cross paths.

"When you play at this level, you always meet high class players. They are a strong club with honourable names on court.

“Gasper is a great player. We know each other well. I expect a good performance from him and I hope I’ll be able to show a good one myself," says Dibirov about his opponent.

Marguc has a similar high opinion of his counterpart: "He's an outstanding player and I will have to be really concentrated on him. He has a licence to do practically everything in attack - he is the first in counter-attacks, he uses the narrowest of corners and he often takes the ball for the decisive plays. For sure, he is one of the most dangerous of Vardar's players."

Excellent handball guaranteed

Both of them ply their trade away from home and are enjoying their status in their clubs.

"It's a dream to play in a club and a country where people love handball with all their hearts. Skopje is certainly this kind of place. Every player feels like a star and fans understand handball.

“This is a new opportunity for me. I have no doubt this was the most important step in my career," reckons the former Chekhovski Medvedi player, who has become the darling of the fans in Skopje.

Hungary was the first stop from his native Slovenian club Celje for Marguc.

"This is my first season abroad and I am gradually getting used to it. Celje was my home, a club where I grew up, and Hungary is something else obviously. I feel good, but I am still in the process of adapting."

Both clubs are gunning for the top spot in their group and the showdown in Skopje might prove to be a decisive one. The teams have met already this season in the SEHA league where Veszprem were victorious at home.

Marguc does not want to compare that encounter with this weekend’s: "I wouldn't draw any comparisons. We are playing away in Skopje, where it is extremely 'hot'. Their fans are true fanatics. I think this will be a derby in every sense of the word."

Dibirov agrees: "We’ll see what happens on Saturday. I do not want to reveal all secrets. Every game is different, every attack is different. We have many options. Veszprem will be prepared, and all I can promise is excellent handball."

Looking ahead

The victorious team will have made a huge step towards taking pole-position in the group.

"Our first goal is to reach the Last 16. We’re very close to this. Then we'll see which opponents we'll face. I hope and believe that we can achieve our (VELUX EHF) FINAL4 dream," Dibirov says, summing up Vardar's short term goals.

Marguc is also clear on that issue: "We want to finish in that top spot, which means a lighter load in the next round. This match is really important in that regard. It will be tough in Skopje, but a win there will be a big step towards reaching this objective."

Both teams also have high hopes for this season. Both Dibirov and Marguc are aware of the pressure, with the former expecting his club to take it up a notch.

"Pressure is a normal thing for us. We are used to playing many uncertain games with pressure, drama and these are just steps we have to take.

“Everyone still remembers the last seconds from last season's quarter-final game against Flensburg. We are eagerly awaiting another chance to show our will and strength. We'll 'bite' until the end and we expect great things."

Marguc adds: "Our goals are ambitious but we have such a roster that makes the ambitions realistic. We are playing to win at every game and it is kind of expected of us to beat the majority of our opponents by 10 goals.

“So far, things are looking good, we are still unbeaten. Naturally, we want to qualify for the FINAL4 and maybe achieve a bit more. But for that a few other things have to align," concludes the Slovenian international.

TEXT: Grega Sever, Goran Antevski / cor