Jezic: “With clear goals, you are always a winner”
Siófok KC have a long history and they made a name for themselves in recent years by becoming the main challenger of the traditionally leading pair in the Hungarian league: Györ and FTC.
In Europe, Siófok even went all the way by winning the Women’s EHF Cup in 2018/19.
Now they enter the group phase of the new EHF European League with clear goals, as one of their key players explains: Croatian international Katarina Jezic.
The 28-year-old line player is in her fifth season with Siófok and approaches Europe’s second-tier competition with a smile on her face.
"We wrote history with a smile on our faces"
No wonder, as Jezic is coming off an incredible end to 2020. As the team captain, she led Croatia to an historic bronze medal at the Women’s EHF EURO 2020 in Denmark.
Croatia was hailed across Europe for their good attack, strong defence and, most of all, positive energy.
“When I look back at EHF EURO 2020, I still can’t believe what kind of energy we had. We wrote history with a smile on our faces,” Jezic said.
“It is something indescribable as we enjoyed each minute on and off the court. That feeling is something I have never felt before.”
While Jezic is an important player for Croatia in both defence and attack, she has a similar role at her club.
Siófok currently sit at the top of the table in Hungary, but have played more matches than the teams below them. The league restarted just nine days after the EHF EURO finished.
“There is not much time to rest in professional sport. I am not complaining. I stand ready for new challenges and I am entering 2021 with a good feeling,” said Jezic, who calls Heidi Løke her role model: “Amazing player and person, to be on top for so long is impressive!”
New season, same goals
Jezic leaves no doubt about her ambitions in the EHF European League.
“My goals are always the same, no matter which club I play for. I want to win and give my maximum,” she said.
“My wish is to go all the way and win the EHF European League. It is a tough path, but EHF EURO 2020 showed that anything is possible.”
My wish is to go all the way and win the EHF European League. It is a tough path, but EHF EURO 2020 showed that anything is possible.
Siófok, sharing group D with Kuban, Fleury Loiret and Dunarea Braila, will open their group phase campaign against the Russian side, at home on Saturday (9 January) at 18:00 CET (live on EHFTV).
Jezic was aware that repeating a triumph like in 2018/19 won’t be easy.
“We have good opponents in the group. Each match is going to be a special task. We need to prepare for each of them tactically, physically and mentally. We have clear goals - we want to go all the way.”
"It is an honour to work with the new coaches"
Siófok went through several changes in October. Following a disappointing start to the season, some of the players left and head coach Bent Dahl was replaced by Croatian strategist Zdravko Zovko, later joined by fellow Croatian Nikola Skoric as assistant.
For Jezic, this Croatian duo are well-known faces.
“Coach Zdravko Zovko was the first one who invited me to the senior national team when I was only 16. At the same time Nikola Skoric was an assistant coach as well. It is an honour to work and trying to fulfill the club’s goals with them.”
Jezic scored 46 goals for Siófok in the EHF Cup last season before the remainder of the competition was called off due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The following time without team trainings or matches was a challenging one, Jezic said.
“It’s not easy to maintain strength and form at the needed level. We, players, have to give our best and be creative when it comes to training sessions at home,” she said.
“I think that the biggest problem is motivation: Everyone struggled with it because we didn’t know how long all this was going to take and whether everything we were doing was in vain.”
However, Jezic was quick to take the positives, as well.
“It was hard mentally but if you have clear goals that push you forward and motivate you, you always come out as a winner.”