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LEVCE KITEVSKI: THE NEW SEASON IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WILL BE EQUALLY TOUGH AND INTERESTING
We are one step away from the beginning of the new season in the Velux EHF Champions Leauge. New battles and opportunities to prove ourselves and to verify our position in the European handball lie ahead of us. We talked with the president of HC Metalurg’s management board, Levce Kitevski, about the current situation and about what we could expect from the new season.
We are step away from the beginning of the new season in the Velux EHF Champions League. Is it going to be different from the rest?
– Of course, a lot of things make this season unique. Firstly, our previous results ensured a direct ticket for the group phase of the Velux EHF Champions League in contrast with the last couple of seasons when we had to make our way through the qualifications. Secondly, in the group phase draw we were in the second pot, which is the pot of the favourites, while in the previous seasons we had been in the last, sixth pot. This shows that Europe started to respect us and to believe in us, too. We are flattered, but this means that we have bigger obligation. We must defend this reputation, and we must improve it, if it is possible. Thirdly, we have changed our vision in hiring new players. If our policy was to hire more experienced and already proven players in the past few seasons, this time we took the opposite direction. Having sorted out the possible candidates, we decided to sign contracts with few young players of whom we thought that would have bright future. So, we signed with few super-talented players from the Balkans, but also with talents who have been created in HC Metalurg. We believe that this vision will be successful and will last for years.
HC Metalurg, at least in this moment, has finished reinforcing their squad. Are you sure that you have covered all the positions?
– According to the budget that is at our disposal, I think that we have proper coverage on each position whereupon we have made a combination of youth, experience and quality. We have an excellent team.
What is your opinion on our group in the Velux EHF Champions League? Is it tougher than the previous groups?
– I believe that our group is one of the toughest, but the most interesting ones, too. If we had at least a guarantee for the fourth position in the last season, because of the underdog Wacker Thun and the financially unstable Dinamo Minsk, this season there will be a fierce fight for one of the positions that ensure the ticket for the Last 16 phase of the Velux EHF Champions League. We are in a group where everyone can beat anyone, although the main favourite is THW Kiel, and probably Paris Saint Germain. However, we will fight for one of the places that lead to the elite Last 16 phase.
Where do you seek your chance, against which team in the group, and which place will we fight for?
– It is highly ungrateful to list names, I will only say that we will fight for the Last 16 phase of the Velux EHF Champions League, which is our primary strategic aim. Everything else will be a bonus which will only confirm our reputation and our true value.
HC Metalurg has a difficult schedule. Where do you seek the biggest danger in the first rounds of the Velux EHF Champions League?
– We did not have much luck with the schedule. In the first four rounds, we will welcome Paris Saint Germain and THW Kiel, and then we will play as a guest team against Brest Meshkov and HC PPD Zagreb…I hope that we will not wait for the last round to obtain a place in the Last 16 phase, but we will try to ensure it much earlier.
Last season we had few notable victories. What are our chances to repeat the same this season?
– At this moment, it is too early to make any predictions, each victory is dear to us in its own way, and I hope that also this season we will have surprises for our loyal fans.
Will SC “Boris Trajkovski” be as full as last year?
– The arena is already full. Each year, HC Metalurg has more and more supporters and we have our own well-known audience, and we see their love towards this club through the rapid sales of the tickets for our biggest sports hall. If we sold 600 season tickets two years ago, and last year the number was 2700 season tickets, then I can proudly say that this year we have reached the number of 4000 season tickets. The numbers could have been bigger, but we thought that we had to sell single tickets, so that more players can get the chance to have the valuable piece of paper and to cheer for their favourite team in live.
Does HC Metalurg have anything in mind to improve the collaboration with their fans?
– We are planning more surprises, but it would not be fair to reveal them now.
Thank you for your time.
– I thank you, too.