Grbic: I believe in my team and in our dreamsArticle
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INTERVIEW: Buducnost left wing Itana Grbic acknowledges that Vipers Kristiansand are favourites ahead of their quarter-final meeting but still believes that her team can reach Budapest.
»2018-19 Women's News

Grbic: I believe in my team and in our dreams

After last season’s quarter-final elimination in the Women's EHF Champions League against Györi Audi ETO KC and with the return of Katarina Bulatovic, Andjela Bulatovic and Marina Rajcic to the club this season, Buducnost’s proclaimed goal is to reach the DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL 4. The last step for Buducnost is to eliminate Norwegian club Vipers Kristiansand.

Prior to the first leg of their quarter-final tie against the Norwegian champions, caught up with Buducnost left wing Itana Grbic to discuss her team's propsects.

Grbic has already scored 34 goals in the EHF Champions League this season, surpassing her previous high of 30 goals scored in the 2017/18 season. Grbic's consistent performances for Buducnost this season have led to her nomination for the All-star Team vote, which will open on Monday. What do you expect from two quarter-final games against Vipers Kristiansand? Can Buducnost reach the DELO WOMEN'S EHF FINAL 4?

Itana Grbic: I am sure it will be difficult. This time Vipers is a favourite, because of quality players, especially because they have more experienced players then us. Of course, I believe in my team and in our dreams. It will take a lot of things to fit into those 120 minutes, but in sport everything is possible. We will see. In a technical and tactical sense, what type of games are you expecting, and what will decide the overall winner?

Itana Grbic: I expect a tough, solid and, I hope, uncertain games until the end. I believe that the main focus will be in defence; I do not expect games with too many goals. Everything is possible in those two matches. In my opinion, tranquillity and a cold head in key moments will be decisive. Buducnost met Vipers last season in the group phase, celebrating a win at home (26:23) and losing the game in Norway (29:19). What has changed since then in both teams?

Itana Grbic: Vipers are playing much better this season than last year. They have a lot of players in the rotation, a new coach who has made positive changes in the team. They play phenomenally both at home and away. It was not easy for anyone to play against them this season. Compared to the previous season, we now have Katarina Bulatovic, Andjela Bulatovic and Marina Rajcic back in the team, and our young players have one year of experience playing more important games. Due to injuries, Buducnost will play against Vipers without Milena Raicevic, Dijana Ujkic and Branka Konatar. How much could that affect your team, and does it diminish your chances against Vipers?

Itana Grbic: Injuries are unfortunately an integral part of the sport. In our business, we must always be ready for it. We are aware that we have to play without the missing players. Each of them is especially important to us and plays a significant role in our team. Surely, Milena (Raicevic) as a leader is someone whose absence is most felt on the court. But I believe that other players will use the chance given by the coach. Given the fact that Milena Raicevic (centre back) and Branka Konatar (left wing) are injured and that you cover both positions, which position will you play against Vipers?

Itana Grbic: It is for the coach to decide. I am ready to help the team wherever it is necessary. Can Buducnost get a big enough advantage from the first game at home, or will everything still be decided in Norway?

Itana Grbic: We will try in both games to give the maximum and to honour everything we agree with our coaching staff. In the end, we will see where this will lead us. How important for the team is to have a full Moraca arena on Sunday evening?

Itana Grbic: It is sure that the support of our fans is most important. It is a special power and energy we feel in the hall which really give us wings. I hope our fans have recognised what this young team has been doing all this season and that they will come to support us on Sunday. I think we have deserved it. At the end of the season, you will leave again Buducnost, as you have signed a contract with CSM Bucuresti. Is the comeback of Majda Mehmedovic, who plays in your position, the reason for your departure? Or are there some other motives to go abroad once again after your previous experience at Vardar?

Itana Grbic: I am someone who likes to try something new. I always wanted to play in a strong league where I will have a lot of games; I think it is the most important thing at my age. I am happy to go to a club like CSM Bucuresti and play with the biggest names in women's handball. I am especially glad that I will play again with the best player Cristina Neagu.

TEXT: Saša Jončić / jw