06/12/2019

Serbia ready to measure up against the best

MEN’S EHF EURO 2020 COUNTDOWN #24: Serbia. Eager to finally get new successes since their silver medal from 2012, Serbia are hoping to shine again at EHF EURO 2020

Bogdan Radivojevic and Serbia hope to be celebrating a lot at EHF EURO 2020.

It has been an arduous path to finding a new identity, following the EHF EURO 2012 silver medal – Serbia’s last and biggest success to date.

After less than impressive campaigns in 2014, 2016 and 2018, Serbia now continue to build on the promise of a new, talented generation.

Three questions ahead of the Men’s EHF EURO 2020:

- What are the goals for Serbia at the EHF EURO?

Approaching the EHF EURO 2020, the aim is clear – Serbia will prioritise team cohesion and steadily increase performance, in order to gain competitive edge.

“The team needs more time together. I want the players rested, relaxed and ready, so they can fully focus towards the national team,” said coach Nenad Perunicic, who took over the 2018.

“I want us to measure up against the best. Playing against top-level opponents is the only way to improve, and know what we need to reach that level.”

In-form goalkeeper and Veszprém star Vladimir Cupara added: “I was never good at predictions. Our goal is to prepare the best way we can, and make a step forward in comparison to the previous competitions.”

- What are the biggest issues, and how is Nenad Perunicic addressing them?

Time is always the worst enemy. And with little time in hand, any issues are going to be addressed promptly.

“We have not had enough time. It was either injuries, busy schedule, or both, that prevented us from working the way we wanted over the past year. We need more teamwork and coordination among the players,” said Perunicic.

“We are trying to spend time together, relax, and talk. That is very important,” the coach added. “We had to finalise the squad early, so we could begin preparing the team that will play at the EURO as soon as possible. There was more emphasis on tactics and attack. Defence was not so much in focus.”

- What is the potential of this generation?

The current generation is probably Serbia’s best since 2012. Given ample time and consistent, quality work, this team can achieve a lot.

The base has been set, the spirit in the team is excellent, and it remains to be seen how it can translate into good performances, starting from the EHF EURO 2020.

“The atmosphere plays a huge role. We are overjoyed to be part of this team. We all know each other very well. It is up to us to give our utmost to reach the desired level as soon as possible – that is, to be able to measure up against the best,” said right wing Bogdan Radivojevic.

Line player Mijajlo Marsenic added: “Every minute counts. We want to be competitive, not just at the EURO, every event that comes afterwards.”

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A post shared by Rukometni savez Srbije (@rukometnisavez) on Oct 31, 2019 at 4:36am PDT

Under the spotlight: Bogdan Radivojevic

In-form right wing Bogdan Radivojevic has found his form this season for MOL-Pick Szeged. Radivojevic’s stellar performances were recognised with the EHF Player of the Month award for September. Struggling for ‘easy goals’, the Serbian team was in dire need of lethal finishers, especially in transition and fast breaks, and that is where the rampant 26-year-old fits in perfectly.

Self-esteem

Players like team captain Nemanja Ilic, Bogdan Radivojevic, as well as Mijajlo Marsenic grew up together, and now make the core of the national team. Such a cohesive bunch, knowing each other’s moves both on and off the court, is a rare treat, and certainly an example to follow and rub off on everyone else in the team.

Fun fact

Bogdan Radivojevic and Vanja Ilic, younger brother to team captain Nemanja Ilic, sport matching tattoos, inspired by a quote from the movie ‘Fast and furious 7’: “No matter where you are, whether it’s a quarter-mile away or halfway across the world, you'll always be family.”

What the numbers say

Serbia have a record of two medals, 11 participations, 22 wins from 55 matches, and 1,425 goals scored at the EHF EURO events. The pick of goals scorers in the current squad are Nemanja Zelenovic (191) and Nemanja Ilic (184).

written by Nemanja Savic / ew