Ivic: “I am really happy to be and play in Kielce”
Born and raised in Zagreb, Filip Ivic spent 13 years playing for Croatian champions HC PPD Zagreb. Through Zagreb Ivic found his way to the national team and has shown over recent years why he is one of the most talented goalkeepers in Europe.
But Ivic’s last season in Zagreb was not what he expected it to be, and he missed the EHF EURO 2016 in Poland and Olympic Games in Rio where he was the 15th player on the roster.
However, in the 2016/17 season Ivic had a fresh start in his first ever international club – KS Vive Tauron Kielce, the current VELUX EHF Champions League champions. Coach Talant Dujshebaev recognized Ivic’s talent and brought him to the small Polish city, Kielce, to replace fellow Croatian Marin Sego.
From the start of the season 24- year-old ‘Karate Kid’ Ivic had Dujshebaev’s complete trust. He has been first choice between the posts several times and his work on court has been featured among the Top 5 Saves of the round on ehfTV.
Fićo, as his friends like to call him, talks to ehfCL.com about how he adapted to his new environment, his new club and what it is like to play against his former club where he spent 13 years.
ehfCL.com: This is first time you signed for an international club. Was it difficult for you to adapt?
Filip Ivic: I adapted really fast. The team and all people in and around the club were accepting. Since it is my first international club I didn’t think I would adapt this fast but I did. I’m really happy to be and play in Kielce.
ehfCL.com: There are a lot of Balkan players amongst your teammates in Kielce. Did they help you adjust to the new team?
Filip Ivic: Uros Zorman and Manuel Strlek helped me a lot. Not only me but all Balkan players that come to Kielce. For sure it was easier to adjust when I had them as my mentors and I want to thank them for that.
ehfCL.com: How do you like it in Kielce? Have you already started with Polish lessons?
Filip Ivic: City-wise Kielce is great, it has everything I need. There is a lot of greenery and nature – it’s a very peaceful city and that’s something I like. I started learning Polish, and my teammates are helping me a lot so I hope that in the near future I’ll start speaking.
ehfCL.com: In Round 7 of the VELUX EHF Champions League you returned to Zagreb, or Varaždin to be precise, as a player but in a different team’s jersey. What was it like for you to play against your former teammates? Was is easier to save their shots because you know them very well?
Filip Ivic: For sure it was very unusual to play against my former teammates, but on the other hand it was easier for me because I knew where they will shoot. With some of them I shared the locker room for four or five years, so I really know them well. I also think should have saved more balls in Varaždin because I was close to catching many of their shots.
I was very happy that I was able to play in front of Croatian fans. It’s very nice to play at home even in different jersey.
ehfCL.com: You have many fans and they came to Varaždin to support you, even now, playing for Kielce. Are you happy with that?
Filip Ivic: Of course, I’m happy that I have a great fan base. It’s really nice to play in front of a full arena in Kielce. The atmosphere is just amazing. A small group of Kielce fans are following us on our trips around Europe so we are very thankful to them because they are always with us.
ehfCL.com: How do you rate Kielce’s season so far? And what about Zagreb? They are not on the same level as last year.
Filip Ivic: For now, we are still in the fight for first place in Group B. We had two tough loses against Vardar and Rhein-Neckar Löwen. I think in those two matches we should have played better. In general I’m very happy, I believe in my team and I hope we will go very far in the VELUX EHF Champions League.
As far as Zagreb is concerned, I have been following them from the start of the season. Their season opening was bad but with the win against Vardar [in Round 5] I think they are back on track. They are playing really well in defence and I believe they will qualify for Last 16.
ehfCl.com: On Sunday you have another match against Zagreb. What do you need to change compared to first match in Varaždin?
Filip Ivic: For us the most important thing is to win. Similar to how we played in Varaždin, we need to play really well. We need to play tough and aggressive in defense. If we manage to do that I believe we will win.
ehfCL.com: What kind of result with Kielce would you be satisfied with this season?
Filip Ivic: The season is going to be very hard for sure. We had problems with injured players so we are constantly incomplete. As I said before I believe in my team and I hope we can go very far!
Watch Match of the Week between Vive Tauron Kielce and HC PPD Zagreb with English commentary by Chris O'Reilly this Sunday 27 November, live on ehfTV.com from 18:00 CET.