28. 06. 2018

Milenkoski for WoV: „I’m in serious talks with two national teams“

Source: Photo: volleystory.com

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The Macedonian Joško Milenkoski established himself a respectful coach in Turkey in the previous seven seasons while being at the helm of Maliye Piyango, Ziraat Bankası, and men’s national team. He came to Turkey after winning 15 championship titles with OK Rabotnički Skopje in Macedonia and last season it seemed he was close to winning his first one with Ziraat...


 

For a long time, Ziraat were at the top of the standings in Turkey and many saw your team as a serious candidate to win the championship title. But, somehow, after Halkbank broke your winning streak, you fell apart. What was the cause of that in your opinion?

„We couldn’t count on all players in the first part of the season due to injuries. Kurek was also unable to play, he was injured. He was treating his injury, carrying out therapies but, still, we played well. We were leaders in the standing after the first part of the season, made 10 wins in a row and then lost to Halkbank in Round 11. In that period, we eliminated Craiova and Düren in the CEV Cup and went through to the quarterfinals. At the beginning of the second part of the season, we had more injury problems with some of the key players. Vojin Ćaćić got his shoulder injury again so we remained without outside hitters. Actually, we had only Kaliberda and players from the youth team in that position but they didn’t have enough experience to compete on a high level. During the whole season, we had problems to play 6 on 6 at workouts because of all this. Nikić came to replace Ćaćić as a huge reinforcement and we stayed at the top of the standings until Round 15. Then Nikić tore his knee ligaments so we remained without him, too, and had to sign Antonov who helped us a lot, especially in the CEV cup,“ Milenkoski said in an interview for our website.

Bartosz Kurek was supposed to be a huge reinforcement for Ziraat but he fully healed his injury and started to play only in the second part of the season. How much did this disrupt your concept?

„Of course it disrupted everything because he was supposed to be a key player. But we were persistent and the club wanted to give him the chance. We didn’t want to terminate the contract with him, we wanted to wait for him to return as long as it takes and keep him. And he finally started to play but then it was too late. We failed against İstanbul BBSK and a chance of reaching the playoff finals disappeared.“

Could Ziraat do more in the CEV Cup finals against Belogorie?

„Muserskiy was unstoppable. As you can see, he continued playing at a high level in the Nations League. We didn’t have a solution for him, especially in the first leg. You know that they are a club with a big reputation as three-time Champions League winners and they finished second in the regular season in Russia with this team, just behind Zenit Kazan. We simply didn’t have a chance there, they ran us over. But in the rematch, we played amazing. We had two match balls to win by a 3-0, missed the counter-attack... It was one of the best games that we played in the season. After losing this set, Belogorie started to play their game and it was over. With so many problems that we had, with not so good bench players, entering the finals was a big success. I consider eliminating a team like Verona amazing and the way we played against them was an example of how we should have been playing throughout the season.“

Is it true that you started negotiations to take over one national team?

„I’m in serious talks with two national teams but we will wait for the World Championship to end so, everything will be more clear at the end of September. These two national teams have a big reputation on the world level and they have ambitions to make some serious results.“

What are your plans on a club level for the next season?

„I will stay in Ziraat. We are done with our transfer activities. We signed Iranians Ghaemi and Kazemi, Finger also came as well as Jovović. I am especially satisfied that we could bring in Jovović who is one of the best setters in the world and his quality will make us a better team. So, we have 4 foreign players and the rest are players from our youth team which is one of the best in Turkey. We plan to give a chance to young players to improve themselves, especially throughout training. That’s our plan and our ambition because we will probably not compete in European cups next season. The Turkish league is one of the strongest in the world. The other clubs reinforced their rosters well and, at the moment, I can’t say what is our range next season.“


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