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Kovač for WoV – „Zenit are undisputed champions but Belogorie have big ambitions“

by WoV
source: Photo: CEV

After spending one and a half season in Halkbank, Slobodan Kovač now has a new challenge in his coaching career.



Winning two titles in the Turkish championship have attracted Belogorie to offer a contract to the Serbian head coach who didn’t have to think twice knowing that the offer came from one of the biggest powerhouses in the world.

You have never worked in Russia before. How much are you familiar with your new club and players who compete there?

„There’s no doubt that we are talking about a good club who was the Champions League winner in the not too distant future. It’s a club that has a rich tradition. Unfortunately, Tetyukhin has finished his career but one of the best players in the world, Muserkiy plays there. I have no dilemma that Belogorie possess quality. For me, it’s a new country but also new motives and I am 100% ready to accept the challenge.“

A large number of players have left Belogorie since the beginning of the transfer window. Did you already have some preliminary talks with the club leadership regarding the squad for the next season and reinforcements?

„They told me that they consider hiring two outside hitters and both should be foreigners. So, in regard to this, I gave some instructions to the club leadership. As I can see, quality opposites left the club, Grankin also left… Many things go on but a club president is a man who has been in volleyball for a long time and I am sure that he wouldn’t hire a new coach if he hasn’t had a good plan regarding this.“

For several years, no team was able to dethrone Zenit Kazan in Russia. Can Belogorie do that under your command next season?

„Yes, Zenit are undisputed champions but we have big ambitions. As a coach, I am ambitious and I will do my best to make my team play as good as possible and to interfere into title battle.“

Apart from what is obvious, which are the two championship titles in Turkey, how do you assess your work in Halkbank?

„The club is phenomenal. We are talking about one of the best clubs in Europe when it comes to the organization, but also when it comes to everything else. Despite the fact that people told me great things about Halkbank and Turkey, I didn’t expect the club to be so good when I came. Working conditions were amazing. Living conditions, too. And, as a logical sequence of events, good results came.“

Did you have a desire to stay in Halkbank for, at least, one more season?

„There were some talks. I would stay, why not. We would make a breakthrough in the Champions League, which would be our goal because we showed a good quality last season. Injuries prevented us to make a better result last season. Looking at the entire season, we had all players at the disposal only against Perugia in the Playoffs 12. Never before that.“

How do you assess the chances of Slovenia national team to claim one of the top two spots in the 2018 CEV Golden European League and, eventually, win a spot in the next year’s FIVB Volleyball Nations League?

„It will be very tough. We made an agreement in the national team to give more experienced players some time to rest and to give a chance to younger players who have to impose themselves and earn a spot in the squad for the World Championship. As you can see, things are not going well for Slovenia in the European League at the moment. But, these more experienced players will return to the national team for the World Championship. That’s our goal. We want to prove to everyone that Slovenia deserve to be at the top of the world volleyball. They earned it considering the results they made, including the last year’s World League.“


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