Bosnian head-coach Dragan Markovic: We will beat Iceland! | Handball Planet

Bosnian head-coach Dragan Markovic: We will beat Iceland!

Bosnian national team has started 2014 very successfully. Pre-qualify victories for Quatar 2015 have influenced raising confidence in Bosnian handball circles, and speaking of confidence – one man isn’t lacking any: Dragan Marković – Marka, the national handball coach. Always very pleasant to talk to, he spoke on many topics, first of all Euro 2016 qualifications draw:

It seems that you finally have solid chances to battle equally for one big tournament, your opponents being Denmark, Belarus and Lithuania?!

– It’s not that easy. All groups are equally tough. We were unfortunate to draw Belarus, team lead by Jurij Ševcov, which I have confronted both in Bundesliga both as player and a coach. He was coach of Rhein Neckar Lowen and my time at the time was Wetzlar. I consider him to be one of the greatest experts along with few coaches from our region. I have huge respect towards him and his work. He has stabilized Belarus, made them very troublesome opponent and I’m not all that pleased to draw them. Denmark are undoubtably the favorites, but they’re not unbeatable, they have many flaws…

And where is Bosnia and Herzegovina?

– Our time is coming. We have built a strong team spine, we are very well coordinated and that gives us hope. However, my thoughts at the moment are not in the qualify group, because we have a duel against Iceland in June. We are fully focused on this big chance to attend one great tournament.

Speaking of chances… how big they are? Most see you as underdogs in these matches.

– We were outsiders against Germany as well, no one had faith in us. When I said that we can kick them out, I saw them laughing. When we had 10 goals front, went up to 11, had two attacks to knock them out, oh there was some reality in it. I have had only one bad halftime as a coach, and that was the first 30 minutes in Stuttgart against Germans. Danish referees had many lousy decisions, little Bosnia had absolutely no chance and they went for scoring as many goals as possible.

Beating Iceland isn’t mission impossible

– Everybody moans and cries, except me. It’s my nature, I fear no one, my way of dealing things comes with courage and confidence, and I believe in my players. Iceland is a force, they’re favorites, but I strongly believe that we will kick ’em out.

Bosnian national handball team is touring all over the country – Cazin, Vitez… you have support all around

– I come from such areas. I know the mentality people that is willing to see national side. I have managed to arrange match playing in Vitez in order to break ice, because it’s largely Croatian town. We have played a fantastic game there – we all play for the national team. All of them, white, red, yellow, blue, we’re all in. Even if nothing functions around it – we function very well on the court. Even though this is highly politized region, I don’t let politics to enter my locker room. I’ve spend my whole life in handball, and that’s the way it’s going to remain.

Where are you hosting Iceland?

– We’re still debating. We find the Arena in Zenica most attractive, but I don’t know why we don’t play there. We will most probably – because of large interest, have to play in Sarajevo. Only halls in Sarajevo have the capacity to make the game a spectacle.

Euro 2014 qualifiers started off pretty bad, you have had several defeats, but then you made a cut. You have excluded some older players, started fresh with young squad. There are those who interpreted this move as line of least resistance and avoiding responsibilities….

It took a lot of courage to deal with things like I did at the time. I have lost seven players after Germany duels and started building team with U21 players. I think that I’m not all that “standard” – I’m often unsatisfied when I win, but often times I’m satisfied when I lose. We were leading against Russia for 58 minutes, but then the Turkish referees have canceled our two goals and took the victory away from us. We have played a fantastic game against Serbia as well with these kids. I knew we must have patience. Rejuvenating and good results often don’t come side by side, but I was satisfied. In the end we have made it even against Austria, scoring goal in last second, thus showing that we’re very capable of good results.

You have made several victories in pre-qualifies for Qatar. It’s a good self esteem boost

After a series of victories they see me as smart and capable all the sudden, but I was so wrong for them for that large period. We have restored the winning mentality, I have made that happen. Bosnia was losing matches from teams like Greece, Italy, Estonia… with much better players and bigger handball names, but now when my kids are beating all these countries, again you hear these rumors about how weak the opponents are.

What was the problem with older players?

Some players were willing to play, some weren’t. There were problems amongst them, a lot of alibi stories have been made. Some were coming as tourists. I have my own style. Under my leadership one must know when to party and when to work. That’s where I’m being very strict and players have accepted that. There is a lot of discipline and order in the team. We need more time, because we don’t get to spend much of it together. I dream about going to a big competition and spending together 20 days, that would give me the possibility to built a base right. We are limited both by time and squad…


It seems that’s the way with organization as well. How can it be that Bosnia-Herzegovina doesn’t have generation 94 national team gathered, especially after a success in a building 92 team? Who is to blame and who’s responsible?

It’s pretty specific about us. I don’t deal with policy of the organization. The Union is built out of I don’t who and what. I’m a semi pro when it comes to that. If I were pro, I’d be handling all teams. This way of contract got me restricted only to seniors. I often say that junior team is a base for seniors. We have lost that and everything is justified with lack of money. But that’s not the way it is. A lot of inactivity is what I see. A lot of lacking in profession and lot of gossiping, but very least – work. They talk behind back, dealing things in pubs and taverns. When it comes to those places – everybody knows everything, everybody is an expert. It’s unbelievable that there aren’t any school leagues. One man can’t make the wheels turning on his own. Eventually, it all breaks over my back, because I have no players to work with. We’re lacking work in youth sections.

Do any of the „kids“ deserve to be publically mentioned?

– I don’t like to talk about individuals and have never pointed them out. Every time somebody new steps up. Last time those were Perić and Malinović, a game before there were the oldest – Vranješ and Terzić. Let the team give us the best.


And to conclude, tell us are the following two years the time when Bosnia and Herzegovina will be playing on the big scene?

We hope so. I have already talked about how our first three goalkeepers Alilović, Losert and Šego play for Croatia. The fourth one plays for Barcelona, he’s off to Qatar. I have the fifth, but the sixth and seventh are playing for our team. Some of them play for Serbia, more of them for Croatia, we have six of them in Qatar, we have two in Arabia. I can’t even tell where do we collect these players from.

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