Today, Novi Beograd held a regular press conference before the match against Partizan in the Serbian League, but the game wasn’t the main topic.
Dusan Mandic’s removal from the team is the most interesting topic at the moment.
Head coach Zivko Gocic and director Slobodan Soro spoke at the press conference. They confirmed what they told Total Waterpolo two days ago. On Tuesday, Gocic said shortly that Mandic’s current shape is the only reason for his decision. Today, he clarified more details.
“My decision is solely in the interest of the team and the club. There was no conflict or any indiscipline”, Zivko Gocic said.
Gocic underlined that the decision isn’t placing the blame (for unsatisfying results – Ed.) on one man, but a decision that he believes is correct because it is a professional assessment and analysis of the current situation, shape, and contribution to the team.
Gocic said that Mandic won’t be in the competition for the team from now until further notice.
“When you are a coach, you are expected to make decisions. Sometimes these decisions can be very difficult, and you probably cannot imagine how difficult this decision was for me. I played with Mandic for a long time on the national team. We won many trophies together. However, we have to turn to what is ahead of Novi Beograd. We compete for two trophies. Because of that, we must return to work to be maximally focused and do our job correctly”.
The head coach emphasized that Mandic will have all the conditions for training in the club. By Saturday and the game against Partizan, Gocic will pick a new captain.
Comments about working against Serbian national team
A few weeks ago, Zivko Gocic’s decision not to allow Nikola Jaksic to join the national team before the World Cup was the focus of attention in Serbian water polo. There has been no official reaction from the Water Polo Federation of Serbia. The national team’s head coach, Uros Stevanovic, spoke about the case in an interview with Total Waterpolo and believed that Jaksic would play in Podgorica.
Gocic, was the captain of a very successful Serbian national team, one of the most decorated in the history of world water polo and Serbian sport. He retired from the national team after winning the gold medal at the 2016 Olympics.
Some comments that Gocic is harming the national team with his decisions (about Jaksic and Mandic), affected Novi Beograd’s head coach:
“I can’t be silent after these comments that affect me. If someone can think of such a thing, I can’t even comment. It would be nonsense that I, as a former captain of a successful team, could even think of something that would be directed against the national team and water polo in Serbia. It is not worth commenting on,” Gocic said.
Soro: Team doesn’t play as we like, some moves have to be made
Slobodan Soro said that the management of Novi Beograd was entirely behind Gocic’s decision and that it supported him, which he had already told Total Waterpolo.
“The latest decisions are less pleasant and popular, but they are probably the best for everything that awaits us. We lost in the final of the Serbian cup and the semifinals of the Regional League. It was hard for us. But, we don’t want to look back on the past, but on future challenges.”, Soro said.
The director emphasized:
“I have been in water polo for 33 years, and Zivko Gocic a few years less. What we do is the result of our knowledge and experience. We fully stand behind all the decisions, no matter how unpopular they are. It is obvious that the team is not playing at the level we would like, it is not bringing trophies, and some moves have to be made. These decisions are just that. We are convinced that they are the right ones”.