Croatian vice-champions Nexe are one of the teams which have good memories from their trips to Skopje as they always prove themselves as a tough opponents for both Metalurg and Vardar. On Sunday (17.45 CET) they will in Boris Trajkovski sports hall try to do the same, repeating last season and taking points home to Nasice.
In last round both teams recorded positive results beating Serbian representatives - Metalurg against Pancevo and Nexe versus Vojvodina. Both teams experienced certain roster problems during the off-season and they still did not catch the right form. Last season neither team managed to finish the year in upper part of the table but now, with Veszprem out, they are both aiming to fill the void and catch a place on Final Four tournament.
Lino Cervar, Metalurg coach:
Our matches against Nexe are never easy and that’s why we’ll have to be prepared well both mentally and physically. They are a good team well balanced with both youngsters and experienced players like Zrnic, Mrdjenovic, Barisic or even Buvinic who used to play for us in the past. Their goal is to play fast, dynamic handball with aggressive 6-0 defense as well as fast transition. I expect a good but difficult match for us. We must have good, fighting approach although we don’t have any pressure. We must deliver our best each day.
Ante Tokic, Metalurg player:
We’ve played well against Pancevo last round, we were much more I’d say into the match than versus Vardar not allowing opponents to set the pace they’d like. Goal is to use that game as guideline for all the upcoming challenges. Nexe is a team that changed quite a lot, they play fast handball with youngsters and experienced players who are in control of the whole situation. Support from the stands means us a lot, we need it.
Hrvoje Horvat, Nexe coach:
Metalurg is a tough team to play against. Lino Cervar surely knows how to bring the best out of his players. We will need a lot of both energy and focus to finish the match with a positive result. This will be a duel of League’s youngest two teams. Mrdjenovic will most certainly miss the match and considering others I still can’t say who will travel to Skopje because a lot of players are dealing with minor injuries.
Albin Eter, Nexe player:
Matches against Metalurg are always tense and full of uncertainty until the very end. We are expecting nothing less this time. Our approach has to be on the highest possible level and in case we manage to do that I believe we might take points with us back to Nasice. We’ve got to be focused in defense and take care of shooting because they have a really good goalkeeper.