After the change on the bench of the women’s senior national team, there was also a change in the men’s team. Italian Emanuele Zanini was succeeded by 45-year-old Frenchman Cédric Énard, who was until last year the coach of Estonia, with whom he won bronze in the Gold European League last year.
Cédric Énard is a well-known European coaching name, since 2018 on the bench of Berlin with which he won the German Championship and Super Cup last season, and in the treasury, he also has the German Cup and two Super Cups. In the 2017/2018 season led French Tours to the French title and for two years was assistant coach of the French national team.
What were the reasons for accepting the bench of the Croatian national team?
“I still consider myself a young and ambitious coach and I have a strong desire for new challenges, so I was looking for a team with which I will achieve my wishes. Croatian sport has been growing strongly in recent years, I am impressed by your sporting successes. Therefore, my desire to lead the Croatian men’s volleyball team has grown, as Croatian athletes are very ambitious, dedicated and have a sporty way of thinking. “
Last year, you led the Estonian national team in the match against Croatia at the European Championships. What do you remember from that game?
“That Croatia is a competitive team that does not give up, with a pronounced sporting way of thinking. In our group, France and Germany easily qualified for the next phase of the competition, and Croatia was third ahead of Latvia, Slovakia and Estonia and I can say that they did well in the competition. Coach Zanini made a stable team. Marko Sedlaček and Leo Andrić are excellent players. What amazed me was the behavior of the team on the field. They showed a strong will and desire to win and a great fighting spirit. Estonia took a 2-0 lead in sets, but the Croats showed great fighting spirit and eventually won. It was an important match for further qualifications.“
What are your experiences with Croatian volleyball?
“I know Croatian volleyball players, especially Tomislav Ćosković because he played in France and I am extremely happy that we will work together, he will be my assistant coach. Igor Omrčen is a legendary Croatian volleyball player whom I, unfortunately, did not have the opportunity to meet. However, I had experiences with Croatian volleyball players in France, where I met Igor Juričić, Ratko Peris, Šime Vulin… Roko Sikirić left a big mark in Berlin, the club I train now. I also worked for a long time with Mladen Kašić, a volleyball coach who played in Poitiers, my hometown, where I started my volleyball career, and Mladen helped me a lot. I developed a great friendship with him. A lot of quality Croatian volleyball players played in France. “
What can Croatian fans expect from the national team under your leadership?
“What I like about the Croatian team is the fighting spirit. I have been playing volleyball since I was a child and I have always been characterized by fighting spirit, so I first recognized that in the Croatian team. I like that they are also ambitious and do their best on the field to win. Service and reception are the biggest elements of modern volleyball. I have high hopes and practice in the service because I believe that this is the most important element. As a French coach, I cultivate this French style of play characterized by the first contact with the ball, to be as efficient as possible with it. In addition, good defense and service reception are important to me. This is something that is invisible even in statistics, but I think these elements are very significant. I have always been a coach who helps young players to implement themselves as well as possible. We have captain Zhukouski who is a very experienced player and who is currently playing very well in Russia, but also a lot of young talented players who are the future of the national team. It takes experience in certain positions, and that builds over time. ”
What will be the main result goals of the national team?
“The main goal is the European Championship. We have the qualifiers in August and it will be very important to be part of the EC next year. This is a very important step in our process. This summer we will play in the Golden European League, and the Final Four is in Croatia. Our goal is to reach the finals and also achieve the greatest possible success at the Mediterranean Games. These competitions will strengthen the team and are important for younger players who will gain the necessary experience “, said the new Croatian coach, adding:” I have never been to Croatia before and I can’t wait to start work in a new country where I heard only the best. ”