Sostaric: “We are going for four wins in a row”
Two champions from neighbouring countries meet for the second time this season as the VELUX EHF Champions League continues after the two-month winter break.
While MOL-Pick Szeged are still contenders for top spot in Group B, Celje Pivovarna Laško are struggling to secure a berth for the Last 16.
Ahead of the first Match of the Week in 2019, between Celje and Szeged on Sunday at 17:00 hrs (live on ehfTV.com), ehfCL.com spoke with Szeged’s Mario Sostaric, one of the three Slovenian internationals who will be happy to visit their home country although they know of the challenge Celje always are in the Zlatorog hall.
ehfCL.com: How does it feel going to Celje for Match of the Week?
Mario Sostaric: I love to play against Celje. Dean Bombac and Matej Gaber also. All those matches we played against each other in the national championship when I was with Gorenje Velenje were special. I remember we were not successful back then, and because of this I might have taken a personal rivalry to Hungary.
ehfCL.com: Neither you, nor Dean or Matej ever played for Celje. Dean led Cimos Koper to one national championship title, Matej won three titles with Velenje where you arrived a bit later. Celje are unbeaten against Velenje since December 2013 and won again last weekend.
Mario Sostaric: I saw the match, maybe Velenje could have reached a bigger margin in the first half. That was the key as Celje have more power and they proved their quality in the second half.
ehfCL.com: Szeged hosted Celje back in early October and won 33:24. Can Celje be a danger to Szeged this time?
Mario Sostaric: When we played in October, Celje were without Accambray and Sarac. They seem to be true power players, who have changed a lot of things in their game. Especially Accambray with his muscles can fight the toughest defence to make his way. We certainly have to be careful. And we also know that Ovnicek can have a good game. I don't know if Malus will play, but they have still a group of excellent players in the middle.
ehfCL.com: Also, Celje seem a different team when playing at home?
Mario Sostaric: Celje are great at home. They beat Flensburg there and Zaporozhye and Zagreb had almost no chance. They play better at home, the crowd is great. It levitates them, the defence is better, the goalkeepers, the attack faster. They need points. It is hard for me to comment on their chances of going through, but maybe they see this match as sort of crucial. And we are still coming to win.
ehfCL.com: Still unbeaten in home matches, how do you see Szeged’s chanced to win the group?
Mario Sostaric: It is not fully up to us. But we are going for four wins in a row. That is our goal. We will not look at the others, we want to improve our game an at least retain the second spot in the group. We will see. We are in a good shape. We also made an important win in the national championship this weekend, and what is most important, everybody is healthy, even the players that had some small injuries from the World Championship. There were just seven of us in training in January, but slowly the internationals have come back: first Zhitnikov, then the Hungarians, then Sigurmannsson, and finally the guys from the top teams of Croatia and Spain.