Simplicity will bring resultsArticle
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INTERVIEW: Veszprem's Momir Ilic had the most successful time of his career with THW Kiel. Now he faces his former teammates in the VELUX EHF FINAL4 semi-final.

»EHF CL Channel »2014-15 Men's News

Simplicity will bring results

It is safe to say nobody wants the VELUX EHF Champions League title more than Momir Ilic this season. The Serbian left back won the trophy in 2012 with THW Kiel. Now Ilic wants to help his side of the last two seasons, MKB-MVM Veszprem, to taste victory on their second FINAL4 berth. He was a big part of Veszprem’s success in reaching Cologne, scoring 101 goals so far this season. Your team has been in good spirits leading up to the VELUX EHF FINAL4 – you’ve played a great season in the SEHA League as well as on the domestic level. How much have these challenges helped you set the pace for Cologne?

Momir Ilic: I think we’ve had a good rhythm for much longer. This season has been more challenging than the last one, as now we not only play in the domestic championship, but the SEHA League as well. It’s all been very beneficial in helping us rise to the challenge of playing in the Champions League, which required a special kind of focus.

The domestic championship has been our focus over the last few weeks as we knew we would have a title race until the very end of the season. These matches really help you gain momentum, which you can carry into the FINAL4, helping you come to Cologne at the pinnacle of your competitive form. Unlike last season, when your team had a period of rest before taking the court in Cologne, this year you have to keep fighting for everything until the end of May.

Momir Ilic: Last season we went for 20 days without a single competitive match prior to the FINAL4 in Cologne. We did have quality training and preparations, but the match fitness was lacking. When we took to the court in Cologne, we didn’t have that edge we had in the quarter-finals, and it showed on court – it wasn’t a proper ending to the Champions League season. We didn’t do ourselves justice back then, and our real strength wasn’t on display.

Kiel on the other hand, were fighting for the title until the very last match of the Bundesliga last season. As exhausting as it may sound, it really helps to make that decisive, final shot at the FINAL4, that final block or save that can win you the game. All because you are prepared to fight until the very last match, the very last second, and don’t relax for a single moment. What is your impression of your semi-final opponents, THW Kiel, this season?

Momir Ilic: I left Kiel almost two seasons ago, but I have been following their matches ever since. What they are doing this season is introducing many newcomers to the system that they have, and everyone fits in. They have had some injury trouble over the past months, but with the rotation they have, you just cannot underestimate any of the players that came in the team.

Domagoj Duvnjak has been playing in a good role for THW this season. More as a left back, but it suits him well. With a player like that, it does not matter where you put him – he will always be dangerous. Everyone fits into the system so well. Gislason has made it so the players have to be at their best the entire game, play 60 minutes of top-notch handball – and even then it is not enough. As an opponent you can count on all their players having a great day,feeling confident and motivated to win. So what is the secret formula for you to win against Kiel?

Momir Ilic: A lot of our preparation has focused on answering Kiel’s defence – both 6-0 and 3-2-1, which is the key to victory against them. We will adapt our game based on what they play, but it will make sense to build on our tried and tested 6-0 defence. 6-0 has led us to many victories, and we know how to play it perfectly. Understanding Kiel is not complicated – simplicity is what gets the job done for them, and we have to keep it nice and beautifully simple as well. Your national team fellow Marko Vujin plays for THW Kiel. Have you spoken to Marko about your VELUX EHF FINAL4 encounter?

Momir Ilic: I saw Vujin while we were with the Serbian national team [for EHF EURO 2016 qualification matches]. It was difficult. We spent some time together, but avoided talking about the FINAL4 – it’s best to keep it that way. There will be plenty of time to talk and have fun when it is all over – for now we just put our heads down and focus on the next challenge ahead. The best scorer will likely be decided between yourself and Kiril Lazarov. Have you thought about who might come out on top in the ‘Balkan shootout'?

Momir Ilic: I really hope Kiro will win the best scorer award, while I would be more than happy to take the Champions League trophy.

TEXT: Nemanja Savic / ts, me