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EHF EURO 2012 Photo Special: Inside the Serbian Camp
Serbian captain Momir Ilic relaxes in the Kovilovo lobby with a close protection police officer, who accompany the Serbian team at all times.
Team physio Predrag Jovicic discusses with Nenad Vuckovic his injury whilst massaging Ivan Nikcevic, who watches Poland against FYR Macedonia on TV.
Marko Vujin and Rajko Prodanovic discuss - in Hungarian - their club teams MKB Veszprem and Pick Szeged both of whom are in the Nemzeti Bajnokság I.
Everyone wants to be part of the Serbian success - even a cat, who wants to hear what Milos Kostadinovic is saying to the sitting Petar Nenadic.
Nenadic, Vuckovic, Zarko Sesum, Rastko Stojkovic all watch the Poland vs. FYR Macedonia game in silence ahead of the imminent Serbia team meeting.
Unaware his photograph was being taken; Nikcevic focuses on the upcoming game. “He was not seeing or hearing anything, just focussed” says Hocevar.
“The area around the hotel was secure, with no fans, just the staff wishing the team good luck,” says Hocevar as Ilic prepares to board the coach.
The coach leaves the camp and lights are dimmed. Only Ilic is illuminated, reading, as behind him Ivan Stankovic contemplates the next few hours.
As the coach crosses the Sava River, Ilic puts down his book and is deep in thought about the match against Sweden.
Adrenaline replaces the nerves on the coach as the Serbian fans acknowledge the players, including Strahinja Milic, upon their arrival at the arena.
Coach assistant Goran Kovacevic gives Alem Toskic his kit whilst Ivan Stankovic starts to get ready for the match.
Momir Rnic leads the squad out for the pre-match warm-up at the Beogradska Arena which is full of home fans, roaring their heroes on.
The shirt of Darko Stanic waits to be worn by the Serbian goalkeeper. Maybe it is superstition or just routine, but Stanic only puts this on for the start of the game.
Dragan Marjanac’s partner looks on, worried as Sweden come within one goal of the home side at 18:17 in the 48th minute…
…but just 10 minutes later it all smiles as the wives and girlfriends and Momir Ilic’s father celebrate a four goal lead at 23:19 in the 58th minute.
Rastko Stojkovic takes in the 24:21 victory in the intimate surroundings of the dressing room as the rest of the squad have a well-earned shower.
Nikola Manojlovic is accompanied by his wife and child at every match, “the little kid is everywhere, at every match” says Hocevar.
Families and friends are an important part of the preparation and relaxation of the team and line player Alem Toskic is no exception.
“This is my son and daughter,” said Head Coach Veselin Vukovic to Uroš. “He was really proud of them and wanted a picture taken,” said Hocevar.
Dobrivoje Markovic was “loud, really loud”. The bus was shaking widely as the players jumped up and down in celebration.
Zarko Sesum pops his head from behind Nenad Vuckovic. Even though Vuckovic was injured he was “one of the craziest guys, jumping around everywhere”.
Really calm for the whole trip, Rajko Prodanovic, lets the music take over him as one song inspires him to stand up and shout along to the lyrics.
“The players were taking turns to put on their favourite songs on the CD player”. Darko Stanic is a big fan of this number.
Ivan Nikcevic, Nenad Vuckovic, Bojan Beljanski, Dalibor Cutura, Rajko Prodanovic (standing) and Darko Stanic ensure the party continues all the way home.
“When the bus stopped in traffic, people outside recognised the team and started clapping from the pavement”, said Hocevar.
Every one of the players greets the hotel staff member known as ‘Majka’ or ‘mother’ in Serbian, upon their victorious return to the hotel.
Photo: Uroš Hočevar for the EHF
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