|18.09.2008, 12:57||◄ last page|
After a year of absence, for the fifth time in club’s history, Crvena zvezda will play the group phase of the Champions League again.
Crvena zvezda back in the Champions League
The Serbian champions are in the European elite thanks to a better goal difference at the qualification round 1, against Italgest Casarano from Italy. After a 26:21 win at the first game, the young team of Crvena zvezda managed to keep cool and concentrated in the crucial moments of the rematch in Lecce. Casarano were leading 22:14 in the 41st minute and were close to the CL, but the guests came back in the final part of the game to lose only 27:25 (14:11). This defeat was like a victory...
"This is a big step for the club, a most important one to build something great in the future. I hope this result will be recognised by the sponsors and the city authorities. I think now they must help not only us, but all the Serbian clubs playing in Europe. We received a lot of compliments from everywhere and I must say that this is not only a success of Crvena zvezda. This is a triumph of the Serbian handball and a proof that we are resurrected,“ said Igor Butulija, coach of Crvena zvezda, after the arrival of the team to Belgrade.
Going back to the Saturday’s game, Butulija was proud of his players:
"We played in high rhythm at the beginning of the match; we played well in the first part of the game. But soon after we made many mistakes and helped Casarano to take a big advantage. We missed a lot of shots in that period. Nevertheless, I was delighted by the tranquillity and concentration that my players showed until the end of the game. We waited for the right moment, when the home team showed signs of weakness, and than the players who made mistakes in the first 45 minutes were the best. When the Italians were in front by eight goals I told my players that the game lasts 60 minute, we must hold out. And we did it, fortunately. We made a few changes in the team during the game and surprised the rival, but the whole team was decisive,” added Butulija.
For reaching the group stage of the CL, the management of Crvena zvezda decided to reward the team, although the amount was not yet decided. The president of the club, Blazo Cabarkapa, who resigned some time ago and is leading the club until the election of a new president, said that the players will get their salary in advance as a reward.
“Casarano surprised us, they played batter than in Belgrade and they had a result in hands for CL. But our concentration and physical strength decided the game in the final minutes. We played a great defence; the goalkeepers were great in the last 15 minutes as well as the backs. It was obvious that the Italians didn’t play enough strong matches before. Although it was not all the same for us when we were behind by eight goals, the home team panicked when we reduced the difference. We took advantage of that to get the result we wanted. It is important to be in CL”, added Djordje Mihailovic. Though he didn’t score in Lecce, but he was crucial in defence, while David Rasic was a top scorer of Crvena zvezda with six goals.
Crvena zvezda are now going to play in Group D of the Champions League with FCK Handbold A/S, HSV Hamburg and Tatran Presov.
“It’s a tough group, but I expect surprises, even a sensation. Hamburg are very strong, in my opinion one of two favourites to win the Championship in Germany. FCK Handbold last year played the final of EHF Cup, while Slovakia defeated Slovenia in the play-offs for the World Championship and lot of player from the national team play for Tatran Presov. But we have our trumps, we didn’t say out last word in this competition. With the support of our fans we will try to reach more,” concluded Igor Butulija, coach of Crvena zvezda.
TEXT: Saša Jončić