Only six days after the grand finale of the European championship, SEHA – Gazprom League is coming back to Nasice with Nexe hosting Eurofarm Pelister on Saturday (15:00 CET). Fans could already see the same matchup last season as a part of EHF Cup group stage with each team managing to come out on top at home. This will also be the first match of SEHA – Gazprom League Play-Offs this season with the second leg being scheduled for February 12th in Bitola.
Eurofarm Pelister underwent coaching change during the winter break with Stevce Alushovski parting ways with the club and becoming Vardar’s head coach while former Croatian national team coach Zeljko Babic took over his role in Bitola. Babic already has SEHA experience from the time he was coaching Meshkov Brest and Gorenje Velenje. It will most certainly be interesting to see the way Nexe’s coach Hrvoje Horvat will manage to adapt to his new – old role after spending over a month with the Croatian national team as an assistant coach. Mario Tomic on the other hand managed to win the Asian championship with Qatar national team. Home-team fans will also have a chance to see Janko Kevic, who has decided to come back to Nasice after eight seasons, on SEHA court.
Hrvoje Horvat, Nexe coach:
We have to focus on the future and what is ahead of us starting from the match on Saturday. My guys did a good job while I was absent led by assistant coaches Franjo Lelic, Ninoslav Pavelic and Mirko Krolo. We are dealing with some minor injuries at the moments but what’s important is that we have to prepare well for what’s waiting for us in a match against a quality, CL-bound opponent which we definitely have a lot of respect for. We’ll need two solid outings to get through to the next rounds that’s for sure. We still have to see if everyone will be able to suit up for this one but what matters the most is that all players who get the chance should give their best. I’d also like to use the opportunity to invite all the fans to come and support us as they always provide an additional boost in the back for us.
Janko Kevic, Nexe player:
I’d like to use the opportunity to congratulate our coach Hrvoje Horvat and Croatian national team on winning the silver medal in Sweden. We’ve had a few preparation matches and I can say we’re looking better and better. We’ve also prepared well physically with our coach Mirko Krolo and I believe we’ll prove that out there on the court on Saturday.
Zeljko Babic, Eurofarm Pelister coach:
I have a lot of respect for Nexe who are a very experienced team led by coach Hrvoje Horvat. They are playing really well on the defensive side of the ball and can attack with seven players which is why I feel like they will be a favored side on Saturday. However, I can say we are ready. We went through a good preparation period and had a few test matches where we tried a few things we’ll need on Saturday.
Marin Vegar, Eurofarm Pelister player:
We are starting with a new coach, new style. I am sure matches against Nexe will be interesting and narrow. I believe we’ll find out who is going through to the next round in final few minutes of the match in Bitola.