Vardar optimistic after learning from mistakesArticle
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LAST 16 PREVIEW: Macedonian champions find themselves in a more favourable postition than 12 months ago in the second leg against Plock

Vardar optimistic after learning from mistakes

What a difference a year makes as Orlen Wisla Plock and HC Vardar take each other on at same stage of the VELUX EHF Champions League for the second consecutive season.

One year ago everyone expected that the Polish team will reach the quarter-finals after the amazing performance at home gave them a six-goal advantage.

However, the return match in Skopje saw the Macedonians achieved a spectacular 31:20 win and proceed to the quarter-finals.

One year later, things are different as Vardar bring a draw home from the first leg in Plock and will be full of optimism for the return clash.

HC Vardar (MKD) vs Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) 
Saturday, 23 March 18:00 CET live on ehfTV

It may be a coincidence that both teams meet in the Last 16 twice in succession, but when it comes to the quality there is no doubt that both teams deserved their spot at this stage of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

“The first thing I thought when we found out that we are facing Wisla in the Last 16 is that we became more experienced and we shouldn’t repeat last season mistakes. I have big respect for this team as they have great coach and players which show a real team work,” says Vardar’s Russian wing Timur Dibirov. 

“I have to admit that all teams that have reached the Last 16 are very good. Our opponent Vardar has number of good individual players and it’s just question of whether one of the players will shine bright and decide the match,” says Wisla Plock centre back Marko Tarabochia. 

In the first encounter the “Polish warriors” had the advantage during the first half and promised an even fight in front of the home supporters.

Nevertheless the second half changed the flow of the game and Vardar took the initiative. The “red-black” team secured a strong advantage, but started celebrating too early when the punishment on the opposite side came. In the decisive minutes Wisla Plock went on a scoring run and Marko Tarabochia buried the equaliser just a second before the final whistle. 

“It was a really tough and even match. We were in front of them in the first half, but then Vardar took the initiative in the second half. I think that in the decisive minutes we showed good fight and managed to level the score. I believe that if we had less technical mistakes we could have won the match,” says Tarabochia.

On the opposite side, Timur Dibirov also performed well with four goals he was among the best scorers in his team. 

“We are satisfied with the result because we experienced lot of problems with player rotation and we had several injured players, which may be why we lacked concentration in the final minutes of the match.”  

On Saturday, Skopje will host the second leg and Plock can expect to not only take on the Vardar players but the extraordinary atmosphere created by 5000 fans in “Jane Sandanski”.

When it comes to the squads, Sergei Gorbok is still questionable for Vardar while the Polish squad comes in full strength. 

“Everyone knows that it’s not easy to play in Skopje. I’m sure that we will have an interesting clash with full stands and a great atmosphere,” admits Tarabochia.

TEXT: Amina Idrizi / cor