Serbia is the only European national team that will compete at three tournaments this summer.
Tomorrow, the Olympic champions start a 40-day trip around the world. The series of challenges begin in Istanbul on Friday. The Serbs will participate in the qualifications tournament for the European Championships (June 23 – 25). The rivals are host Turkey, Slovakia, and Great Britain.
From Turkey, Serbia travels to the USA, where it will play in the Final of the World Cup (Los Angeles).
This summer’s last destination is Japan, and the World Championships in Fukuoka (July 14 – 30). Before the Worlds, Serbia will have joint preparations with Montenegro in Kashiwazaki.
The national team finished the four-week preparations in Kragujevac today. Head coach Uros Stevanovic picked 17 players for the upcoming challenges.
Goalkeepers: Branislav Mitrovic (Tourcoing), Vladimir Misovic (Crvena Zvezda), Radoslav FIlipovic (Novi Beograd).
Field players: Nemanja Ubovic (Vouliagmeni), Djordje Lazic (Brescia), Sava Randjelovic (Vasas), Nikola Jaksic (Novi Beograd), Radomir Drasovic (Novi Beograd), Strahinja Rasovic (Novi Beograd), Marko Radulovic (Novi Beograd), Filip Jankovic (Radnicki), Djordje Vucinic (Novi Beograd), Vuk Milojevic (Crvena Zvezda), Vasilije Martinovic (Novi Beograd), Marko Dimitrijevic (Partizan), Bogdan Gavrilovic (Radnicki), Marko Radovic (Crvena Zvezda).
Note: Before each of the upcoming three tournaments, head coaches have the right to enter up to 15 players and to pick 13 for each match.
Coahing staff: Uros Stevanovic (head coach), Stefan Ciric, Darko Bilic, Zarko Petrovic, Milos Nikolic (coaches), Dajana Zoretic (physical preparations), Vladimir Radovic , Aleksa Nikolic (physiotherapist), Ivan Marijanovic and Rade Repac (doctors).
It’s well known that Dusan Mandic won’t play for Serbia this summer. Nikola Jaksic, who missed the World Cup Division 1, is back on the team. But, besides Mandic, head coach Stevanovic can’t count on Viktor Rasovic, one of the key players in the World Cup. He got injured at the end of the Final Eight and appeared at the preparations, but he still hasn’t recovered.
Since Stevanovic was appointed, Serbia has had three actions (the preparations in the USA, the World Cup division 1 in Podgorica, and the upcoming summer challenges). On each occasion, some of the key players have been missing. Mandic didn’t participate in the winter preparations in the USA in the agreement with Stevanovic due to personal reasons. Jaksic wasn’t allowed by Novi Beograd to join the national team for the World Cup tournament in Podgorica. Mandic asked for a rest this summer.
“Yes is true, we have never been complete. We practically have had two weeks for preparations this summer because the players who participated in the Final Eight joined us on June 8. In addition, Jaksic wasn’t among them, he was late due to injury. Viktor Rasovic is missing. We didn’t have enough time, but we did all we planned.”, Uros Stevanovic said.
Three competitions are ahead of Serbia.
“Every competition is important. Each match is important for us. The European qualifications in Istanbul and the World Cup should be in the purpose of raising the shape that should reach its peak in Japan. Before the World Championships, we will have joint preparations with Montenegro, which is our rival in the group in Fukuoka, but we agreed on these preparations a long time ago, before the draw. Our ambitions are always high in all competitions. At the end of the summer, we’ll see what is reality and what are the real reach of our team at this moment.”
Situation about Jaksic and Mandic
Asked to comment on the situation about Nikola Jaksic, who is practically without a club at the moment (Novi Beograd asks 150.000 euros for a compensation fee) and Dusan Mandic, who was suspended for two months, Stevanovic answered:
“It’s not easy for Jaksic, we understand him. We all talk to him, and I hope he will manage to overcome this situation. His motive is not in dispute, and it is vital for us that he gives his maximum because the team looks different is Jaksic does his best. As for Mandic, I am in contact with him all the time, both before and after the events in his club. We have to have an understanding of his decision. It’s not easy for him. I feel that even now when we speak. Through his words, I saw what was going through his mind. I repeat, we respect the decision, but we have to turn to our obligations.”
Stevanovic underlines that motivation and team spirit are strong strengths of the national team
“If there is no motive after last year’s results, then we have nothing to ask for. We have been building a good atmosphere since the winter preparations in the USA. It is a basis that should always follow us ‘- until the Paris Olympics, I hope. So far, everything is fine regarding the atmosphere and motivation.”, Stevanovic concluded.
Nikola Jaksic: We aim to win two medals
Nikola Jaksic, Serbia’s captain, said that he had recovered from an injury and was motivated for this summer’s challenges. As for expectations and ambitions, he said bravely:
“The expectations of the Serbian national water polo team have always been the highest possible. We aim to win the medal both at the World Championships and in the World Cup. I think it is possible and realistic. We are the national team of Serbia and nothing less is expected from us.