Poloz: "What we have achieved, is crucial for handball in Slovakia"

INTERVIEW: The man behind Slovakia's historic success, Dusan Poloz, says it is time to enjoy, but they will nevertheless take any chance to win.

Photo: Stephane Pillaud

Slovakia are preparing for their biggest challenge so far, the main round of the Women's EHF EURO 2014, in a state of blissful happiness.

Touted as clear-cut outsiders by everyone, Slovakia came to the Women's EHF EURO 2014 to enjoy the experience, while making sure they give their utmost in every match regardless of the result, in order to prove their merit on the EHF EURO scene after 20 years of absence.

One day after their sensational comeback win against Serbia (23:21 on Friday) in the last match of the Women's EHF EURO 2014 Group D in Osijek, the Slovaks and their coach Dusan Poloz were in a joyous mood at their first training in Zagreb arena on Saturday night.

"I didn't expect to go trough to the main round, but I was hoping for that. I was hoping we could prove to everyone that we can play as a team, against teams that have much better individuals. We were adamant to prove we deserve to be here in the main round," said Poloz.

"We knew the game against Serbia would be crucial for us, because their spirits were low after two losses, and they have problems with injuries. All our focus and energy was put into winning that one game from the very first day we got here."

"Obviously Serbia have magnificent players, but we were hoping our togetherness and playing as a team will prevail, and luckily for us, it did.

"The players are overjoyed with this accomplishment. We have been the better team, and the team spirit is what won us the game."

But the importance of the main round berth means more than just a good result for Slovakia, as handball is not getting much attention in their country, following a 20-year standstill in Women's EHF EURO appearances.

With the turn of the tide, public interest in women's handball is rising by the day, and Poloz and his players are en route to change the fortunes of handball in their country.

"With the state handball is in right now in Slovakia, we will be welcomed as heroes only if we win all six points here in Zagreb," Poloz said in joking fashion.

"We have spoken with our friends in Slovakia, and they say this is crucial for handball in our country. Everyone is starting to follow handball now. Many kids are, and will be starting to play - what better way to see our results than that."

With all the players in his current squad lacking the quintessential Women's EHF EURO experience, coach Poloz on the other hand is not one of them.

He was an assistant coach to Jan Basny who made almost an equally shocking breakthrough into the main round at the Women's EHF EURO 2012 with Czech Republic.

"I was working under his guidance since I was really young, he was mentoring me, and to gain experience under his guidance is a very important part my coaching career and served me well in my campaign with Slovakia."

And somewhere deep in his mind Poloz knows that - albeit small - the possibility is there that Sloavakia's campaign at the championship might not be over yet.

"The coach came here to win something, but the players came here to enjoy - although we will have to talk about it very soon, and try to change that by tomorrow," concluded Poloz, while joking again with his players.

written by Nemanja Savic / ts


EHF EURO 2014 Media Day