Wind of change in Vardar 1961
Prior to SEHA – Gazprom League Quarter-Final matches against PPD Zagreb, Vardar 1961 have confirmed a lot of movement inside their club. The number of players that are coming to the club and moving away has amassed to seventeen up to this day. New season means a fresh start for the five-time SEHA champions. Not only because of the bunch of players who were transfered to or away from the squad, but because a true icon of the sport has come back again. Veselin Vujovic has been given another chance to adapt as quickly as possible and lift the team to new heights.
First, they had to make some space for new players. Eight players were on the move and some of the choices really surprised everyone. Out of four players from Vardar's Croatian colony, only Ante Gadza has stayed with the squad, while Lovro Jotic (SC DHfK Leipzig Handball), Josip Vekic (HC Kriens-Luzern AG) and Ivan Cupic (PPD Zagreb) left for their new teams.
Marko Kizic and Robin Cantegrel also decided it is time to leave the two-time EHFCL champions. Cantegrel is returning to his homeland after only one season with Vardar and will play for Fenix Toulouse Handball, while Kizic moved to Eurofarm Pelister, who are Vardar's biggest rivals at the moment.
CS Dinamo Bucuresti signed Christian Dissinger. In three years that he spent in Skopje, Dissinger has won every important trophy in club handball and simply had a ball playing for the group. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever! Therefore, Dissinger shall be looking to widen his trophy collection while playing for the Romanian side.
Vasko Sevaljevic didn't have enough time to show his skill, so he'll be returning to France to play for Saran Loiret HB in 2021/2022. Gleb Kalarash, one of the toughest pivots in the league, is yet to find a club.
Incoming transfers include a couple of players who didn't have the fortune to play on SEHA courts. But, that will change as soon as they finish with training camp and prepare for the highly anticipated matchup versus PPD Zagreb.
Judging by the situation at the club (two goalies took off), two new goalkeepers will definitely be a reinforcement for Vardar 1961. They will be looking to strenghten their defensive core with Ali Safar and Martin Tomovski. Safar, the first goalkeeper of Kuwait and best goalkeeper of the Asian Champions League shall become the first handballer from Gulf countries to play in EHFCL and SEHA – Gazprom League. Tomovski saved himself from relegation to 2. Bundesliga, as he left Ludwigshafen before the start of the new season. Even though it looks like he wasn't at his best (due to the relegation), take in account that he is young and still managed to catch the ninth position on the Bundesliga goalkeeper list with 247 saves. Other than that, he had an unique opportunity to learn from one of the most durable goalkeepers in history of the sport, Gorazd Skof, and will continue to grow under the wing of Borko Ristovski.
Ante Kuduz (CS Dinamo Bucuresti) and Bakary Diallo (Tremblay-en-France Handball) are the new left backs in Vardar 1961. Knowing that Filip Taleski wasn't very efficient this season, it is going to be interesting to see how competition inside the team will affect them and coach's decision on who to play first.
There is a different situation at the opposite position. Vardar 1961 decided to add two experienced left-handed players to their roster. Eduardo Gurbindo (HB Nantes), as well as Yoel Cuni Morales (Dunkerque Handball Grand Littoral), will be joining the team. With 33 and 34 years of age, both players are still searching for new challenges and is there a better team for that than the one led by Vujovic. Since they don't need any special introduction, we believe they will let their game do the talking for them.
Darko Djukic (Sporting Club of Portugal) and Jan Czuwara (NMC Gornik Zabrze) will play at the wings. Djukic is an old SEHA acquaintance, as he played for Metalurg and Meshkov Brest, where he scored a little less than a hundred goals. Czuwara, who played in the Polish championship for the last ten years, has a lot of potential which will be directed by Timur Dibirov.
Jeremy Toto (SPR Wisla Plock) is the last of nine acquistions who will be trying to give a helping hand to Stojanche Stoilov. His big frame and athleticism have been recognised as very much needed in Skopje, since one of the biggest guys on the team left. Vardar 1961 have a lot of work to do simply because there is not much time left for the new players to adjust to Veselin Vujovic's style of play, thus leaving PPD Zagreb a slightly better chance of winning the Quarter-Final matchup.
Photo credit: rkvardar.mk