Novi Beograd’s decision not to let Nikola Jaksic join the national team in the preparations for the Division 1 of the World Cup in Podgorica was something that few could expect and very surprising for many in Serbian water polo. The news echoed soundly outside of Serbia.
The tournament in Podgorica will be Serbia’s head coach Uros Stevanovic debut on the senior national team’s bench in major competitions. Jaksic’s absence significantly disrupted Stevanovic’s plans at the beginning of the new Olympic cycle.
The preparations began on Thursday.
“Unfortunately, we are not complete before the first big competition in the season. The club didn’t allow Nikola Jaksic, the captain of this new generation of the Serbian national team, to come to the preparations. I think this case is a precedent and that something like this has never happened in Serbian water polo”, Uros Stevanovic said at the beginning of the interview with Total Waterpolo.
According to regulations, the clubs have to let their players train with and play for the national teams on the dates set by the calendars of the international federations.
“A club cannot forbid its player to accept the invitation to the national team. The official international competition, organized by World Aquatics, awaits us, and the club is obliged to let him join the team.
The World Cup is the beginning of the road to Paris.
“The World Cup is a competition through which we can qualify for the World Championships in Doha next year. The Worlds in Doha is important because four Olympic berths will be available at that tournament.”
Captain’s presence is essential, especially at this moment
Jaksic is one of the pillars of the Serbian national team.
“It isn’t necessary to talk about how much Jaksic is significant for the national team after the generational switch. His presence is important, especially now, at the beginning of the team’s formation. After three days of preparations for the World Cup, I don’t see any progress made for Jaksic to come to the preparations.”
Novi Beograd sent the letter to the Water Polo Federation of Serbia and said that it’s better for Jaksic to train with the club since he has recently recovered.
“I don’t want to comment on that letter stating that Jaksic is not in satisfactory shape. In the Regional League tournament last weekend, he played three games in 48 hours. Nikola played the Champions League game on Tuesday, unlike his teammate Djordje Vucinic, who is with us. The work with the national team is Vucinic’s first training after he was ill for two weeks.”
The club’s competition calendar leaves little room for the national teams’ preparations.
“Because of the current clubs’ calendar, every joint piece of training is essential to us, not just official matches and competitions. Nikola’s wish to play for Serbia is not disputed, and he is ready to appear at training at any moment.”
Stevanovic still believes that the captain will join the national team.
“Unfortunately, this is the first time that Serbian water polo has faced a situation like this. I am sure that the Water Polo Federation of Serbia will protect the cult of the national team. We are traveling on Tuesday. I expect Nikola to go to Podgorica with us.”, Serbia’s head coach emphasized at the end of the interview.
Nikola Jaksic: I am always available for national team, but I respect club’s decision
Nikola Jaksic didn’t play and train for several weeks, because of an injury. He returned to the team last weekend. We asked him for comment about the current happening.
“I am always available for the national team and ready to play if the head coach calls me. But, I respect the club’s decision. If something changes, I’ll join the national team.”