Stoilov: We have to act like champions in every game
Thanks to his experience and physical strength, Stojanche Stoilov is among the key players for HC Vardar as he looks to his eighth season in the ‘red-black’ jersey. Over the years, Stoilov has established himself as one of the most iconic Macedonian players and, as Vardar’s captain, he led the team to both historic achievements in Cologne.
Vardar will once again start the season as defending champions, though, due to injury, captain Stoilov will miss the opening games of the VELUX EHF Champions League.
In this exclusive interview with ehfcl.com, read more about what makes Vardar so special, this year’s expectations and much more.
ehfcl.com: In the dramatic last season, Vardar reached the highest place on the VELUX EHF Champions League podium. What was the turning point in 2018/19?
Stojanche Stoilov: Yes, we had turbulent season last year and a lot of problems, but in the end, we somehow managed to overcome everything and win the trophy in the Champions League. I don’t think we had a specific turning point, we took one game at a time and, step by step, we reached the highest place on the podium.
ehfcl.com: Once more, you are starting the season as champions. Does this bring additional pressure compared to last season?
Stojanche Stoilov: We were in this position two years ago and, from our experience, we know that this year will be much more difficult for us. The pressure is something that our team welcomes and somehow we manage to demonstrate better results when we are under pressure. However, once you are champions, you have to act like champions in every game and that is not easy.
ehfcl.com: You have been wearing the ‘red-black’ jersey for eight years. What makes Vardar so special for you?
Stojanche Stoilov: Vardar is a special club not just in Skopje but in the entire country. This team has a big fan base, which includes the best supporters, Komiti, and I’m one of them. My father is also in love with the club and he transferred this love to me a long time ago. I remember him taking me to football games when I was very young.
Today, I wear the captains’ armband with pride and honour, and I’m happy that in a difficult time for my country we brought joy and pride for our citizens.
ehfcl.com: Vardar lost several key players from last season as new names joined. What do you think about the playing roster now?
Stojanche Stoilov: That was the story last year also, but that didn’t stop us from achieving huge success. It’s always difficult when you lose key players, but it is not something that you should lose sleep about. We have a very good atmosphere in our locker room and that is always helpful with the players.
ehfcl.com: What is your opinion on new coach David Pisonero?
Stojanche Stoilov: I haven’t spent a lot time with Piso and the team because of my injury, but from what I’ve seen he is a communicative and fair coach. These are very good and important signs for a healthy relationship between the coach and the players. I wish him good luck this season and a warm welcome to Vardar’s family.
ehfcl.com: What is your latest injury update? When can you return to the court?
Stojanche Stoilov: My rehab goes slowly and I’m going to miss the opening games of the Champions League, but I surely can’t wait to get back on the court as soon as possible.
ehfcl.com: Returning to the court means meeting three more line players in your position. What does this mean to you?
Stojanche Stoilov: It’s always good to have strong competition in the team because you always have to prove something during the training process, and strive to be better. The pivots are young and ambitious and I hope I can help them become better.
ehfcl.com: Vardar finished third at the IHF Super Globe. How would you rate the performance of the team in this competition?
Stojanche Stoilov: That wasn’t the real picture of Vardar because I think we have a lot more things to change or add in the game. The team demonstrated some strong and weak sides, but in time we can only get better.
ehfcl.com: The draw in the Champions League put you in a group with some familiar and strong opponents. How do you see the group?
Stojanche Stoilov: Yes, we are in a very difficult group, which I think is even more difficult than last year. Everybody wants a piece of the champions, but we are Vardar and like I said, we have to act like champions in every game, without excuses.
ehfcl.com: How would you rate Vardar this season and what are your goals?
Stojanche Stoilov: Over the years, we keep the same goal as always and that is reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne. Once we are there, everything can happen.Author: Amina Idrizi / cg