Walther: “50:50 chances for both sides!”

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HC Nexe and HC Eurofarm Pelister face in the bronze medal match of the SEHA Final 4 on Sunday.

Which team can cope better with its clear semi-final defeat? For the first time ever, Nexe and Eurofarm Pelister face at the SEHA Final 4 tournament – and on Sunday it is about mental and physical strength in this duel in Zadar.

Sunday, 4 September, 16:30 CEST:
bronze medal match: HC Nexe vs HC Eurofarm Pelister

In the 2021/22 season, both sides were part of SEHA – Gazprom League and EHF European League, with Nexe making it all the way to the final tournament in Lisbon. While the Croatian side had their debut at the SEHA Final 4 tournaments in 2019, finishing fourth, Eurofarm Pelister had their first ever SEHA Final 4 match on Friday in  Zadar – and concede a huge 27:41 defeat against defending champions Telekom Veszprem. Nexe lost against PPD Zagreb 26:32.

“We've analyzed the match against PPD Zagreb and there are a lot of things we'll have to find a way to improve in. Tomorrow is a new day and a new match against a tough opponent. We simply must find a way to catch that right rhythm from the start and see where that brings us in the end,” said Nexe coach Branko Tamse in Saturday’s media call.

“My personal goal was to go all the way with Nexe this season after finishing third with Celje and second with PPD Zagreb but in the end, it is obviously not going to happen. Our goal will surely be to win the match tomorrow and leave Zadar with the bronze medal. Everything is looking really good here in Zadar, as I said already we are all enjoying it and it is definitely a pleasure to be here once again,” Tamse added.

For Nexe player Tomislav Severec it is obvious that “we have to find a way to improve in this upcoming match. Multiple aspects of the game require an upgrade from our side if we want to go home with the bronze.” And talking on his role in the team, Severec said: “Luka Moslavac and I are sharing left back minutes this season both in attack and defense with the departure of Halil Jaganjac. Obviously, we have some pretty big shoes to fill but we're enjoying every minute of it being each other's biggest supporters.”

Both contenders for the bronze medal underwent changes in their squad before the event in Zadar – and both had needed penalty shootouts in the quarter-finals to secure their tickets to the SEHA Final 4: Nexe beat record champions Vardar 1961, while Eurofarm Pelister eliminated Meshkov Brest.

While Nexe had problems in attack in the semi-final against PPD Zagreb, Eurofarm Pelister lacked stability in defence – and was overrun by Telekom Veszprem’s counter-attacks. In the history of the SEHA League, both sides faced only twice in the 2019/20 season, and each team won their home match, Nexe by 23:20, Eurofarm Pelister by 24:22.

Right after the semi-final, Eurofarm Pelister coach Lars Walther mentioned the defence as the core problem, but on Saturday he found positive things: “We can learn so much from this match against Veszprem, for tomorrow’s bronze medal match and the rest of the season. Nexe is a team of our level, and the chances to win are 50:50. Both teams have a quality, we know each other, but we know that we must improve in all departments. Last season we had two tight games, now we can expect another good game against Nexe.'''

Eurofarm goalkeeper Marko Kizic shares this optimism: “The best option is to forget about the semi-final. Tomorrow we have an important match in which we have much more chances against an equal opponent. We had many problems against Vezsprem, we are a new team with a new coach, we are only six weeks together, so we need to go step by step. Tomorrow, two good teams will face, I expect a good match, both teams are on the same level.”

Photo credit: kolektiffimages