In the Croatian semi-final clash of SEHA - Gazprom League final tournament between PPD Zagreb and Nexe, main focus will be on two young Croatian national team players who have both had breakout seasons this year and are one of key features of their respective teams. In semi-final 1 parallel interview we're bringing you 'Lion' David Mandic and 'Thunder' Marin Sipic.
You're without doubt having a breakout year, a season in which you've both managed to write your name all over your respective clubs as well as Croatian national team. How do you feel about everything that has happened to you in the last 12 months?
David Mandic. For me, everything started with the Mediterranean Games and a transfer to PPD Zagreb. We managed to go all the way in Tarragona, coach Cervar recognized me and from that moment on my arrow was pointing upwards. I’m satisfied with everything that has happened but I’m not planning on slowing down because I’ve set some really high goals for myself and I’m ready to do everything in order to reach them.
Marin Sipic. Tarragona Mediterranean Games ignited the fire for me as well. I feel like good things are happening to my career since I decided to join NEXE and I believe everything is going the right way for me at the moment. After that coach Cervar decided to give me a chance with the ‘A’ national team in qualification matches against Switzerland and Belgium and I guess I used the opportunity in the right way since he later invited me for Germany and Denmark World Championship. As I said, I feel like I did a good job and things are generally working the right way for me at the moment.
In the first semi-final match of SEHA Gazprom League Final four tournament here in Brest PPD Zagreb will face off against NEXE in yet another Croatian SEHA derby. What do you think fans are up to in this one?
David Mandic: I believe we’re all up to a great one. We know everything about them and so do they about us but I’m sure we’ll both prepare in the best possible way. I believe we’re favorites and in case we managed to deliver our best performance on Tuesday we’ll play in the grand finale on Wednesday.
Marin Sipic: We’re ready for the match. As David said, we know each other well and I believe it will be a good match in general. I believe fans will see a tough match, a real battle of defenses because that’s what matches between these two teams usually offer and in the end we’ll see who comes out on top. I believe in my team and can’t wait for the first whistle.
What do you feel like your national team colleague is bringing to his team and do you have a recipe how to stop him?
David Mandic: I believe Marin will be one of the best if not the best line player in Europe in the next few years. I really respect him and the way he plays however we did everything in order to prepare in the best possible way for him and all of his teammates and I hope we’ll on Tuesday be able to at least slow him down because he’s an incredibly hard player to completely shot down.
Marin Sipic: David is obviously already one of the key players of PPD Zagreb’ defense and we most certainly did spend some extra time trying to figure out a way to get past him more easily. He’s tough and aggressive and speaking of his offensive skillset, I guess we’ll have to rely on our goalkeepers a bit in that aspect.
What does it take for a young player to make in Croatia since it seems like you both have the right recipe?
David Mandic: Hard work, hard work and hard work only. All the way back from when I was still in Ljubuski. Coach Cervar recognized all the effort I was putting in inviting me to the Mediterranean Games and as I said that’s where it all started. You’ve got to work hard in order to achieve your goals. That’s the only recipe.
Marin Sipic: I agree with David. No one will work hard in order for you to achieve your goals but yourself - every day you must aim to do everything you can to get at least one step closer towards achieving your goals. That’s one and only recipe, nothing special, secret or fancy really.
Photo credit: Kolektiff Images