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2021 Champions League LEN Events News Water Polo

Champions League, F8 – DAY 3 QUOTES


Pro Recco (ITA) v FTC-Telekom (HUN) 9-6

Gabi Hernandez, coach, Recco – “This a great win for this club and a well-deserved one as I think we played really well during these three days, in all three matches. I should thank the efforts first of all to the players who did a great job, also to my staff, our president Maurizio Felugo and our owner Gabriele Volpi, their support was outstanding in this season. I think today it was our intensity, especially in defence, which brought this victory. When I say intensity, it’s about the intense, aggressive but not brutal defending which worked really well in this match.”

Zsolt Varga, coach, FTC – “Of course, losing a game never makes you happy but I should say I’m still pretty much proud of my players at the end of this extraordinary and sometimes brutal season. We went through gruelling periods, were hit by Covid and injuries not just once but still, we were able to pull ourselves together and came up with two great wins here. For today, we didn’t have enough power to play a game of that intensity, packed with loads of exclusions and to have one field-player less due to that disciplinary case from yesterday. In fact, Recco has a longer bench of physically fully prepared players while we have two very young guys who developed significantly in this season which means a lot for the future, but today it wasn’t easy for them to keep the speed and stay firm in the battle. I knew Recco was playing with more confidence when they were in the lead – we could hold on till halftime but a couple of misses, in a 6 on 4, then in that 5 on 4 had already told me the bad news that the psychology of the game was changing as Recco seemed to got extra energies from those moments. And it happened, my guys were too tired to break their defence again and again – so we have to settle for this silver. Still, we can be really proud of this.”

Dusan Mandic, MVP, Recco – “It has been long time coming. I came to Recco six years ago, the last season was cancelled so we have been waiting for this for five seasons. The feeling is unbelievable. This was such a specific season. We experienced a shock after losing to Brescia in Italy. It was not a nice or pleasant period for us. We got together, looked in the eyes of each other and worked it out among ourselves. Trust me, it was not easy but we rose to the challenge. We are overjoyed. It is not a problem to lose a game but how we lost to Brescia left us with a bad feeling we needed to wash away. And we did it. We proved to be real champions. Now Recco is up to 9 Champions League titles, more than Partizan and Mladost, both of which are water polo greats.”

Aleksandar Ivovic, captain, Recco – “Sacrifice, great sacrifice is the first thing that comes to my mind. This team has been in pursuit of this trophy for five years. It was always missing all these years. We were favourites but always failed to come to the end. Hard work and sacrifice, disappointments included is what brought us here today. I am extremely proud of our team for finding the inner strength to start afresh, always finding new ambitions, goals to fulfil. Good things come to those who wait I guess… I am over the moon… I want to thank everyone, the team, our president, the staff, everybody who was there for us day after day, along this road to success.”

Bronze medal match

Zodiac Atletic Barceloneta (ESP) v AN Brescia (ITA) 7-13

Chus Martin, coach, Barceloneta  – “As usual, after a lost semi-final it’s really hard to play this game, especially when you played such a tiring match as we did with Recco. Also, Brescia was really good today, we didn’t have much chance to keep up with them. This can happen sometimes. We had a very great game against Olympiacos and also did well against Recco until the middle of the third period. It’s not easy to play with these two Italian sides within 24 hours. I’m sorry that this ended this way, this was my last game as the coach of the club, but I’m very happy for what we have achieved with this team in the past years.”

Alessandro Bovo, coach, Brescia – “This is a great result for this club, to claim this bronze medal and to win this match in the way we did. It’s not easy to play against such a great team as Barceloneta, they are excellent, so this is a great achievement. I’m really satisfied with this season.”

Milan Aleksic, player, Barceloneta – “I think we showed good water polo here. Unfortunately, we didn’t succeed in beating Recco and making the final. Today we had nor strength left, nor any motivation for more. It is difficult to play three matches of this level in as many days. We just couldn’t. To be honest I don’t see any point in playing these matches at this stage of the season, just days before most of us join our national teams for the preparations for Tokyo.”

Marco del Lungo, goalkeeper, Brescia – “I am really emotional. It is great to conclude this season with the bronze medal in the Champions League. Credits go to everyone. We did great things this year. Nonetheless, this was such a difficult and unpredictable season. We had to fight COVID-19 more than once, always starting over, training and working. It’s a great way for me to say goodbye to Brescia, which has been my home for the last ten years. I came here very young and literally grew up here as a goalkeeper and as a man. I want to thank everyone, the Club, our president and our coach who has been like a second father to me.”

Maro Jokovic, player, Brescia – “I am happy and satisfied that in this little time we had, we managed to put our heads together and conclude this season with a win and a bronze in this year’s Champions League. I do regret not making it into the this year’s final, as we were so close. It would have been great to close this project that way. Still, we did historical things for Brescia. It’s a pity that this great group of not only water polo players but people too won’t t play together any more. Most of us don’t have much time to rest. Within days, we will start preparations with our respective national teams, and we have a long and busy summer ahead.”

For places 5-6th

Waspo 98 Hannover (GER) v Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) 11-16

Karsten Seehafer, coach, Hannover – “This is our best performance in the Champions League so we can be proud of that. We came here, played with three great teams and we did well against Recco and especially against Olympiacos. We lost today but we can be really satisfied with this season, we achieved our goal to qualify for the Final Eight and managed to win a game here too. We will come back next year, with some more young guns in the team and try to improve our overall performance.”

Vjekoslav Kobescak, coach, Jug – “We ‘defended’ our fifth place from the last edition – to be honest, this is a realistic result for this team. Perhaps we could have been in the top four but now we are not at the same level with the best teams. It was a very difficult season for this team, new players, challenges, we can have mixed feelings and we know that we have to rebuild the team and some parts of our game. We are ahead of a long-long summer but I think we will return next season and be stronger.”

Moritz Schenkel, goalkeeper, Hannover – “I think it was very good for the team this year to have qualified for the Final 8. It is our second time but this year we have earned the right to be here and by that we did the right step forward. We have made some very good development from January on. Here we played really well for two and a half matches. For us victory against Olympiacos was very important psychologically. Today I don’t think anyone wanted to play this game. I don’t know any other sport where at the very end of season you play three matches of this level in only three days. We are not machines.”

Marin Tomasovic, player, Jug – “We can’t be satisfied with this season. We didn’t win any trophy after a long time. We came here with a goal of qualifying to the semi-finals and face whoever comes next among the four best teams in Europe. Brescia disrupted our plans. After that, it was about showing character and how to rise after a defeat. We hope next year will be better and we’ll be back among the best four teams in Europe where we belong. Also, hopefully we, younger players have learned our lessons this year.”

For places 7-8th

Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v CN Marseille (FRA) 13-12

Theodoros Vlachos, coach, Olympiacos – “To be seventh or eighth here does not make much difference, but it matters how you finish the season. The players reacted well, showed character today. You know, how this whole season unfolded, many new players, many restrictions, no games for long months, sometimes no pool trainings – it was already a positive result that we could be here. It was bad that in the first two matches we did not even fight, we changed that for this last game, for ourselves, for the club, for the fans. We won, this is good and hope to be back and have a much better season next year.”

Milos Scepanovic, coach, Marseille – “It’s not easy to play these games as it’s hard to have three matches in three days especially when there is no clear target ahead of you. I’m still satisfied how the team performed today. All in all, it was a very positive experience for this team, to be here for the first time, it was something new for a lot of players but also a good learning opportunity. We can definitely use this for the future, it did good to the club and our projects.”

Georgios Dervisis, player, Olympiacos – “We are not happy with the final result. I think this team is good enough to play with Zodiac CNAB on equal terms and that result and our performance in the quarter-final was not realistic. Today we gave our best as we wanted to finish off this tournament with a win and wash away some of the bad feelings from the previous days. It was important for us psychologically. Before coming here we won the National Championships and Cup and came here after psychological boost. I truly don’t know what happened, I can’t explain it. This must be a lesson for us. Next year we will have a bigger budget. The team will be different, more competitive and our targets will reflect on that.”

Alexandre Camarasa, player, Marseille – “I have just played the last game of my career! I started training with the A team as a 14 years old in Marseille under the great Nikola Stamenic who played a key role in my development and my career. This year we paid the price of our inexperience in playing at Final8. This was our first time. We came here with big ambitions to compete at this high level but now we now what it takes to win here too. I believe this team will win the Champions League in the next few years. We have good conditions and a good coach who is also a good guy. As for myself I am working at KPMG and I also represent athletes in the FOC as a member of the Athletes Committee and the President of International Development and Partnership. I will continue to do water polo for just fun and enjoy my new life as a dad while also continuing to support athletes and water polo at the events.”