10 reasons why Vardar will do it againArticle
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FIRST HAND INSIGHT: Been there, done that. Vardar have lifted the VELUX EHF Champions League trophy in 2017 and there are enough reasons to believe they could go all the way again this time

10 reasons why Vardar will do it again

For the third time HC Vardar are part of the VELUX EHF FINAL4. They went all the way and lifted the coveted trophy in 2017, and their current season gives reason to believe that they could do it all again.

Here are 10 reasons why the trophy could arrive at the Alexander The Great airport next Monday.

1. The format

Thanks to the SEHA League, Vardar are used to play final tournaments in a four-team format year by year. They know how to handle this pressure of the playing the two most important matches of the season within two days - with no break and no time to think. Vardar have won the SEHA trophy five times, more than any other team.

2. Timur Dibirov

Left wings never get old. Ask Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson or Timur Dibirov. The experienced Russian is still one of the most efficient weapons of Vardar. Famous for his steals, he is used as a sweeper in front of the defence. As Mr. Counter-Attack, he possesses the widest range of spin-shot variations in the world of handball.

3. The omen

In 2017 they arrived in Cologne as the underdogs, mainly because they had to face record winners Barça in the semi-final. But they beat the Spanish favourites with a buzzer-beater, providing the players with extra energy for that victorious final against PSG. In 2019? They face Barça again in the semi-final…

4. The legacy of El Commandante

Though many players have left and with them the mastermind himself, Raul Gonzalez is still the father of the current Vardar team. Recommended by Talant Dujshebaev, Vardar signed ‘El Commandante’ and the Spanish coach build the base for success. Now with PSG, Gonzalez missed the trip to Cologne but Vardar will still try to win it for their former coach, too.

5. Stojanche Stoilov

The powerful line player is more than just the team captain. He is the leader of the warriors, the Braveheart of the Falanga. Stoilov never gives up, he is the motivator, the fighter, the power of the team. And even when we is not playing anymore one day, he will still wear his Vardar jersey.

6. The coach

Roberto Garcia Parrondo seems to have magic hands. When top stars such as Arpad Sterbik, Luka Cindric, Jorge Maqueda or Joan Canellas left, he formed a new Vardar team. The Spanish style of Gonzalez combined with some new attack features and a lucky hand in signing players like Stas Skube and Dejan Milosavljev.

7. Dejan Milosavljev

A goalkeeper is the key to trophies. And Vardar can count on one without nerves. Dejan Milosavljev has replaced legendary Arpad Sterbik like a true number one. Cologne will be the biggest stage of the young Serb’s career, but with performances like those against Szeged or Zagreb he will steer his side to success.

8. The fans at home

The players from the 2017 squad will easily remember this black-and-red parade all over Skopje, when the heroes returned home from Cologne with the trophy. The whole country stood behind them as one, celebrating the nation’s biggest sports success in history. Having in mind the national euphoria they can trigger, players will get an extra energy boost.

9. Igor Karacic

The mastermind wants to leave with yet another title. Karacic definitely was the biggest asset in Vardar’s attack of the current season. His assists and goals paved the way to Cologne – and the biggest shows of Luka Cindric’s successor are still to come.

10. The insecure future

The Vardar story will continue, that is for sure, but will they ever have the chance again to make it to Cologne? Nobody knows. It could be their last big party on the big stage. There is no bigger motivation for Stoilov and his teammates.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / ew