We are in the world’s top and when we play against each other, you can expect exciting games – said Marko Podraščanin after match against Poland. Serb told about generational change and getting promotion to the Final Six World League.
What happened to Dragan Stanković? Does he have any health problems?
Marko Podraščanin: – No, nothing special. He had a small problems also in in Italy, but it’s nothing special and dangerous. It’s also possible that he will be ready to play on Saturday.
So everyone in your team is healthy? Nobody complains of any pain?
– Yes, thank God, me and the others are healthy. We’re just waiting for Nikić – the last player that is missing in our team. Some problems has Vlado Petković, who had to have surgery, but also he in the next week or two will return to trainings. I hope with his health and the health all of us all everything will be OK.
You don’t have Vlado Petković, but Aleksa Brđović replaced him successfully.
– Yes, definitely. He and Nikola Jovović who is playing in Friedrichshafen in Germany, are two young players who have to a lot to learn, but they can also bring something new to our game.
In your opinion, Poland is a good opponent to test your shape before the World League?
– Yes, especially since we are currently in strength training and the sparring will help us to eliminate our problems before the World League. In a few days we are flying to Cuba, where we’ll play our first match. It will be very important to us, because will meet two teams that really want to get out of the group and qualify for the final tournament. Poland is a great opponent in this type of sparring. Poles won last year’s World League and they’re also one of the best teams in the world.
Poland won the World League, you won recent European Championships, so we can say that met two masters.
– Yes, it was perfect meeting of two perfect teams. We belong to the world’s top so every time we play against each other, you can expect to really interesting performances. Also the atmosphere at these matches is amazing, especially here in Poland.
You’ve said that you’re in training and it could be seen. Anyway, both teams had their good and bad moments.
– In our game it was most evident in the reception. We made a lot of mistakes, and the Poles had serve a few aces. Of course, we knew that this team is serving well, but still it shouldn’t made so many mistakes. We need to eliminate these errors, especially that World League will start in a few days. We need to improve our game if we want to achieve something in this tournament.
In these matches against Poland you played without pressure, had fun with volleyball.
– Especially the first and third set were very good in our performance. In the third set we won, despite the fact that for a long time we had to chase the score. The result in this case isn’t the most important thing – it’s all about our game. Now we know what else needs to be improved and it’s especially reception and serve. Also an attack from high, situational balls needs to be improved. What’s more, we have to manage to make a block.
How do you feel before the start of the World League – you are in a very difficult group, and your rivals are e.g. Russia and Cuba.
– We play against the Russians, Cubans, Germans, Italians and Iranians. As I’ve said, our first game will be away, on Cuba. We want to win in both of these matches to maintain the best possible chances of qualifying for the final tournament. That would be awesome.
So your goal is clear: to advance to the Final Six.
– Yes, especially that in the two previous editions we didn’t manage to qualify for the finals. We didn’t play the best in the group stage, which didn’t give us qualifications. Earlier we also lost the final match, and a year later semi-final (2009 final against Brazil and 2010 semi-final against the Russians – ed.). Now, after a two year break, it’s time to finally advance to the Final Six. It would also be very important that the team have a lot of young players. In this game against the Poles we began with five young players, just me and Petrić are 1987, so we are not even the oldest.
Like you said – you’re still a young player, but in this team one of the oldest and most experienced so the younger should learn from you.
– I’m a bit older then them, but I still feel very young (laughs). When I went to the Italian league, I was nineteen – I play in Serie A for six seasons. Lube Banca Macerata is one of the best teams in the world, and I could get there invaluable experience. However, these new players make up the “golden generation”, which in 2011 won the Youth European Championships and Youth World Championships. That’s why we don’t have to worry about our future. We have many young and talented volleyball players who are able to play at a really high level, and replace Miljković or Grbić.
You mentioned Lube Banca – you know something more about the transfers that you could tell?
– I know that the club has contracted one of the best Polish players (laughs). We don’t have only the setter because Travica decided to play in Belgorod. I’m happy for him, because when you get an offer from Russia, you can’t say “no”. Although I’m sorry he’s leaving, because we played together for two years. Only recently I spoke with our main manager about the new setter. But now the team is searching him.
There were rumors that the most likely Travica’s successor won’t be Italian. It’ll a bit complicate yours, Dragan Stanković and Bartosz Kurek situation.
– The fact that the setter won’t be Italian, isn’t said. I wish it will the best possible player, nothing more. Nor do I think that this in some way will complicate our situation – I am sure that will get our chance.