Buducnost coach Adzic: Defence always decides
The Buducnost vs Gyor rivalry all started in the EHF Women's Cup Winners’ Cup back in the 2005/06 season when the side from Montenegro won the trophy thanks to 26:23 away victory after their first leg draw in Podgorica (25:25). This was to be the first of 16 encounters to date.
In 2014, Gyor beat Dragan Adzic’s side 27:21 in the final of the FINAL4, and two years later, at the 2016 Women’s EHF FINAL4, the team from Hungary defeated Buducnost in the semi-final 21:20 to make it nine victories in total.
Buducnost, winners of the 2015 FINAL4, beat Gyor on aggregate in the two-legged 2011/12 final on home ground in one of the tightest finals ever – it was 54:54 on aggregate but Adzic and his team were crowned champions due to their greater number of away goals (27 in Hungary) than Gyor (25 in Montenegro). Against Gyor, the side from Podgorica can only boast three wins, with the four remaining games in the series ending in a draw.
Initially as part of the coaching team, then as assistant coach, and finally as head coach of Buducnost, Adzic has witnessed all the clashes and he knows more than anyone what is at stake this weekend.
“There are no secrets between us,” he told ehfCL.com “We know all about them and they know everything about us. These are the two best teams in the last six, seven years.”
ehfCL.com: Who are the favourites for the 2017 TIPPMIX EHF FINAL4?
Dragan Adzic: As long as the EHF FINAL4 is played in Budapest and Gyor stay at their current level, in terms of investment, team quality and system of play, they will always be the favourites and they have showed it again this season.
But the favourites do not always win the FINAL4, like what happened last year with CSM Bucuresti. We are now, perhaps, in a similar position as they were because people are giving us little chance to win, but in sports, even us who are weakened, can compete with the great Gyor.
ehfCL.com: You mention “weakened”, for the whole season Buducnost have had injuries and you will be missing Milena Raicevic, Suzana Lazovic and Djurdjina Malovic. How will you adapt, particularly on the backline?
Dragan Adzic: Even with those three players in the team, Gyor would be the favourites, so their chances now are much bigger - it is a big handicap for us, but we will aim to play at a high level without them and we have a fifth backcourt player in Itana Grbic.
We should not forget that last year we were missing Radmila Petrovic and Majda Mehmedovic and were forced to find another back for the rotation as Kinga Achruk also had some problems with her knee.
ehfCL.com: This weekend will be a time for younger players to show their worth on the big stage?
Dragan Adzic: During this Women’s EHF Champions League season our young players scored 133 goals and gave their maximum in training sessions, making an immeasurable contribution. They can play in our system and older teammates trust them – our synergies between youth and experience will help us to overcome our problems. They are ready for great work ahead.
ehfCL.com: It has been a season of ups and downs for Buducnost and yourself personally. Defeats at home against Vardar and FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria saw you offer your resignation, which was rejected. You then had five consecutive wins. What happened?
Dragan Adzic: We always trained very well and that always gave me hope. It was obvious there were some psychological problems so we all sat down and agreed to give our maximum. We stuck together, and the club management – like always – did not punish the players and supported the coaching staff until the end of the season, which proved to be the right decision.
There were no mutual accusations, only mutual trust and we came out of it stronger.
ehfCL.com: Buducnost had two convincing victories against Larvik (31:17, 35:30) in the quarter-finals, did you expect this?
Dragan Adzic: I cannot be happy when our opponent scores 30 goals in the game but it’s formidable when you defeat a great team such as Larvik twice, with a total goal difference of +19.
When we respect our game, the opponent is powerless, no matter who it is and in Budapest I believe they will have their best performances of the season.
ehfCL.com: This season you sped up your attacking play, after successful defence. How satisfied are you with this?
Dragan Adzic: I’m very satisfied as we worked hard on transition. There was desire from the first training to speed up our game, allowing us to create as many opportunities in attack to honour the defence.
In our 14 games, on average, we created between 20-30% more goal chances out of transition in each match and this gives us a great advantage. We slowly introduced and adopted our ‘quick centre’ this season - against Larvik we made 19 goal chances out of this transition.
ehfCL.com: What will decide your semi-final – attack or defence? Buducnost have scored 404 goals and conceded 339, while Gyor have scored 424 and conceded 340.
Dragan Adzic: Defence will be decisive, along with who has the most players in a good defensive mood – Gyor, like us, are devoted to defence. Last year we lost the semi-finals against them 22:21, which clearly shows what type of defence we are talking about and it will be the same this year.
We started this season without Majda Mehmedovic and Radmila Petrovic so our defence was based on the impact of wingers - it took some time to adjust to that. In the Group Matches we played without Dragana Cvijic and have also been without Milena Raicevic and Suzana Lazovic – they were all cornerstones in the system that we created so it was logical for some disorientation in our defence until the game in Skopje against Vardar.
Our last two matches against Larvik confirmed to the players that there is a great potential to play a superior defence and this has the potential to reduce every team at the FINAL4 to the minimum number of goals.
ehfCL.com: Cristina Neagu, Dragana Cvijic, Kinga Achruk, Neli Irman and Biljana Novovic (nee Pavicevic) will leave Buducnost at the end of the season to move teams or retire, does this give everyone motivation to end with a trophy in Budapest?
Dragan Adzic: Knowing and having the privilege of working with these top players I'm sure they will all give their last atom of strength to win. They proved that in the past five games, and I believe they will be extra motivated in their last two matches in the jersey of Buducnost to play their best two games of the season.