Skube: “If we didn’t have character and heart we wouldn’t be champions of Europe”
After facing several injuries and departures of players and coaches, the defending champions HC Vardar have been in downward spiral this season. Vardar lost their last VELUX EHF Champions League match at home against Montpelier, which pushed them to sixth position in group B.
“I think this season is the most turbulent in the history of the club. We started great with three victories and then a lot of things happened – the change of coaches, financial problems and the departure of the players, and we felt this mentally. Taking into consideration all the above-mentioned factors, this result is unfortunately realistic,” says Vardar centre back Stas Skube.
Several new names
Stevce Alushovski is new with Vardar, after being appointed head coach in January. He has already been faced with changes in the playing roster due to the departures of Dainis Kristopans, Pavel Atman and Khalifa Ghedbane.
“Stevce is a super person and coach, and he wants to get the maximum out of us. This is a really challenging task these days. He talks to us every day and tries to motivate us as much as possible,” says Skube.
Starting from this month, Vardar signed two reinforcements, with national team goalkeeper Borko Ristovski and Marko Mishevski joining the squad.
“I think it’s great that we have new singings, since we missed one more goalkeeper and Marko Mishevski can do a good job in rotation, especially in defence. He was with us last year as well, so he didn’t had difficulties adapting to the team.”
Repeat of the 2018/19 quarter-finals?
Over the past six seasons, Vardar have made it to at least the VELUX EHF Champions League quarter-finals. On two occasions, the Skopje-based team went all the way and won the premium European competition.
On the road to Cologne this time around, Vardar will meet Skube’s former club MOL-Pick Szeged – the team the North Macedonian side faced in last season’s thrilling quarter-final. The first leg will be played on Vardar’s home court, before the return leg in Szeged.
“I don’t think there can by many surprises between Pick Szeged and Vardar. In the last couple of years, we have played a lot of matches, so we know each other very well,” says Skube.
Hope for a positive outcome
Skube excelled in the Vardar jersey last season, playing an increasingly central role and becoming an instrumental part of the team. In what was his debut season with Vardar, Skube reached the highest place on the podium in Cologne.
“I like to play a key role in the team and I like to fight for the highest places in all competitions. I’m the type of person that likes challenges, so I’m really sorry for all that is happening in the team at this point,” says Skube.
These days are not the brightest for the VELUX EHF Champions League title holders, but Vardar still have the chance to play the final weekend once more. Vardar’s players have already proven that a difficult situation can bring bigger motivation, as the Macedonian powerhouse are known for showing character in hard times – sometimes leading to epic results.
“We have to be realistic. The team that won the EHF FINAL4 tournament cannot be compared to the team currently playing, as the previous one was 40 to 50 per cent stronger, and it’s unlikely that last year’s scenario will repeat. Yet, if we didn’t have character and heart, we wouldn’t be champions of Europe and the club would no longer exist,” says Skube.
“The situation is really difficult, but I know that we will give 200 per cent of ourselves by the end of the season and we will not cry because of problems we are facing. I believe all this will come back to us in a positive way.”Author: Amina Idrizi / cg