Janc: “We already know we will return proud, no matter what happens”
No less than seven Slovenian players will be fighting to achieve their dream with the four clubs at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2019 in Cologne. One of those is PGE Vive Kielce’s Blaz Janc – one of the best right wings in the world and, at 22, also one of the youngest among them.
With Polish champions Kielce, he caused a huge upset in the quarter-finals, eliminating top favourites PSG. The 2015/16 champions do not want to stop on the doorstep of paradise.
“Everybody says that anything can happen in Cologne. Top favourites don’t always win in LANXESS arena,” says Janc. “We know that Veszprém have a very strong team, but in one match it is possible.”
Fans will remember the crazy final in 2016
Both teams’ fans will remember the crazy final in 2016, when Kielce were down by nine goals in the second half and still made it to extra time, eventually winning on a penalty shoot-out. This season, the teams played two matches in the group phase, with Veszprém proving better in both.
The semi-final opponents will both aim to secure their respective national titles just days before travelling to the VELUX EHF FINAL4.
“We are in pretty much the same position. We both have one big rival in our national championship. Veszprém will play against Szeged in the final; we, on the other hand, have to beat Wisla,” says Janc. “Our main goal is to secure both Polish titles, and we already won the Cup. That is why we still haven’t thought much about the Champions League.”
Kielce were on a perfect winning run for more than three years in Poland. But days after eliminating PSG and winning the Cup, Kielce lost their first national championship match in more than 100 games, against Gwardia Opole.
“It never goes on for ever. We were emotionally empty. It was just a bad day, after we won the national Cup and reached Cologne,” says Janc. “That is what I was trying to say also for the EHF FINAL4 – it can happen to anybody in a negative and positive way. If we will be in a better mood than Veszprém, maybe a more successful goalkeeper that match, we can reach the final. And if that happens again on Sunday, who knows!”
Seven years of experience
Janc made his debut in the Champions League with Celje when he was just 15, so he already has seven years of experience. He has the ability to decide matches and fears no challenge. The right wing also has a great season behind him, with a nomination in the All-star Team as a confirmation of his strong performances. Fans can vote for the All-star Team exclusively in the relaunched VELUX EHF FINAL4 app, which is available to download for iOS and for Android devices.
“That makes every player so proud. As I am still eager to learn, then it makes you feel you are on the right track. But being able to play in the EHF FINAL4 – wow, that’s even better. This second year in Kielce I feel much more comfortable obviously. I know what Talant (Dujshebaev) wants from me and, because of the injuries we had all season, I play even more in both offence and defence,” says Janc, who is definitely one of the most athletic players in the top-flight competition. Only Alex Dujshebaev scored more Champions League goals for Kielce this season.
“Alex is one of the best players in the world. He can find you and pass you the ball anytime, or he can finish it by himself. I enjoy playing with him,” says Janc. “We do have a strong right side. I like to score goals, I like to run counter attacks and do not fear the challenge of a penalty shot, but even more than this, I like to win matches.”
Janc has scored 67 goals this Champions League season – a lot more than the previous year. He still has one year left on his contract with Kielce and does not want to talk about the future yet.
“I have time to decide what to do, until December. To stay here, I would feel great, or maybe accept a new challenge. That is a lot of time. I just focus on our next match.”
This week, the Polish national championship will be decided. The first final match against Wisla was played on Wednesday, and Saturday will see Kielce’s last home match of the season.
“Then we will start to prepare for Veszprém. We will train in Kielce, then Thursday we travel to Cologne, Friday all the media activities, then on Monday on our way home to Kielce, we already know we will return proud, no matter what happens.”
Author: Uros Volk / cg