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24.09.2016, 00:42◄ last page     

NEWS REPORT: Slovenian champions with an opportunity to make an immediate impact on the VELUX EHF Champions League with a win against their traditional rivals

Celje ready to hit form at the right time against Zagreb

“Players who need an extra motivational push for the game against Zagreb are in the wrong business.”

These are the words of Slovenian national team goalkeeper and Celje Pivovarna Laško first choice Urban Lesjak, ahead of the the traditional Balkan clash against HC PPD Zagreb.  It will be encounter number 17 in the VELUX EHF Champions League between the two and most of them ended with the victory for the hosts. The only exceptions were two games in their home Zlatorog hall, one of them last season.

“Zagreb were lucky in the beginning of last season, we played very well for 50 minutes of the match and that will be the recipe for Saturday. With the support of our home fans we can deliver a better game and a better end of the game on Saturday,” says Branko Tamse.

The young, but already experienced coach of Celje Pivovarna Laško is not satisfied with the shape of his team in the start of the season.

Celje, together with Gorenje Velenje, joined the SEHA league this season and have lost both matches in Zlatorog, against Veszprem and Vardar, so far.

The Macedonians scored 40 goals a week ago for a clear victory. Miha Zarabec is still the player who is capable of opening up any defence in Europe, but Celje’s playmaker had a tough summer emotionally and physically with the Slovenian national team and has yet to deliver a great game this season.

This could be the week for Zarabec to catch form, so too for Borut Mackovsek, who has returned home after his sojourn abroad, as he hopes to show his potential once again. Playing against Zagreb coach Veselin Vujovic, who also leads Slovenia’s national team, can be a huge incentive for him.

“Defence must be our strength, things have changed when Blagotinsek left for Veszprem and Dobelsek ended his career, but still I believe and I am certain that the magic between the players in this year’s defensive line-up will come soon, they only need a good minute of a game, I hope it can happen against Zagreb,” concluded Tamse.   

PPD Zagreb signed three Slovenian players this summer, goalkeeper Matevz Skok and right back David Miklavcic played for Celje in the past, Branko Tamse also worked with left wing Darko Cingesar at Velenje.

All three Slovenians had a great game on Tuesday against Gorenje in the SEHA league and Zagreb as a whole are looking even stronger than last year, when they ended the season at the quarter-final stage of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

Even though the golden years of rivalry are now behind them, the games between the two European regulars still stir plenty of emotion and both will be keen to get this season off to the best possible start.

TEXT: Uros Volk / cor

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