Many handball fans will have difficulties sleeping tonight, but for all the right reasons. After a pressure-cooker in Skopje, Metalurg made giant-killing a habit of theirs as they defeat Barcelona 31:29 (15:11). Lead by the outspoken Lino Červar, brave Macedonians didn’t allow being star-struck facing the likes of Karabatić and Lazarov, as their immaculate defending shocked the Spanish champion. It was the experienced Červar whose name was on the lips of every fan in “Boris Trajkovski” venue tonight, as the highly acclaimed tactician masterminded this enormous success for Metalurg. Červar didn’t hide his emotions after the match, as he spoke openly and in no uncertain terms to the media representatives in the overcrowded press center in Skopje.
No one was happier that the Croatian expert, Lino Červar tonight; after taking the better of French powerhouse PSG at the start of the competition, his HC Metalurg side defeated Barca in the very last match of the Velux EHF Group stage.
“My heart is full. I am very glad for the guys” began Červar, soon to be interrupted with the ovation from the fully packed press center at “Boris Trajkovski” venue.
“Mitrevski is here as well. He was fantastic, just like everybody else. When we made our voice be heard, we were instantly confronted about our intentions. We do not have any. We are happy. We’re happy that we have a team like Metalurg here in Macedonia. We do a lot to promote handball, many people had followed this game both in and out of Europe. I was unhappy before the match, after I read one article, but it motivated me. My astrological sign is a Virgo and I’m very emotional person. Our defeat has been branded as a disgrace in Barcelona. It wasn’t disgraceful; no my friends, we didn’t play well, we played wrong, we played unseemly. Polish referees did all they possible could to push us of the cliff, and into the abyss for as long as they can.“ As mago di Umago drew up the memories from their first match in Barcelona, and then continued in a cauldron of intense emotions.
“We didn’t regret missing Mojsovski. You know what he is- a leader, a top-class player. You all know who Atman is. We did everything in our power to make him available for this match. We left our hearts on that court, and I am grateful to the fans. They (Barcelona) wanted to defeat us, to go through with the perfect record, undefeated. You’ve heard what Kire (Lazarov) has said; they are the prime favorites for the champion’s title. This is our third years as a Top 16 phase participant, along with five other teams.”
We schooled them
“The players opened the game fantastically. Barca was powerless against our 6-0 defense. Vele and Jono were always quick on their players’ shooting hand in defense; Barcelona couldn’t make their attempts on goal. There has been a little lethargy from our side in the end, due to the fear coming so close to the victory, but we overplayed them. A lot of courage, and nerve was displayed tonight from Mirkulovski and Ojlevski, also Georgievski. Tonight we weren’t playing slow- we were clever. Handball is more about the skill than running. There are many teams that can run a lot, while stuttering when it comes to handball. It’s not a competition in athletics”- breathlessly disclosed Červar, and concluded:
“Everything I say is to encourage you to work harder, all of us. Macedonians have a big heart.”