Nexe plan to leave their mark
In the small city of Nasice in the eastern part of Croatia, a great handball story is being written. 170 km from the Croatian capital Zagreb, HC Nexe are thriving, and all their efforts and work over the past few years are paying off. This is their 11th successive season in the EHF Cup and the fourth time among the top 16.
“Our sports success has an excellent impact on the small city of Nasice. We are situated in an eastern part of Slavonia with less than 10,000 citizens, and developing a professional club was demanding. We made it possible and the city and people give it back to us. They are good support in the stands, and we are providing them with exciting matches against the best European clubs and players,” says club President Josip Ergovic.
Coach Hrvoje Horvat’s team now await the next Group B clash, which will see them host TSV Hannover-Burgdorf on Saturday at 19:30 in what is the first home game. It will be the match of the group, as both teams took wins in the opening round and now wish to continue on that path.
“Hannover are an efficient team. Many national team players are in the roster and it will not be easy. My team is feeling even better than last year when we played against two other German clubs – Frisch Auf Göppingenand FüchseBerlin,”says coach Horvat. “We are filled with confidence and determined to show our best play on the court. We expect big support from our fans, and we will give our best to pull off another significant win.”
Nexe were not expecting to win their first Group B encounter against Tatabanya. But determination, togetherness and belief in the whole team brought them the reward. Nexe struck in the crucial minutes of the match and had the perfect start to the group phase – a 28:27 victory.
“We achieved a win over Tatabanya, a team that beat Veszprém, so, no words are needed to define how significant those two points are for us,” says Horvat. “It was a good game, maybe not that attractive, but at the end we were lucky enough. That win will mean nothing to us if we don't surprise Hannover too, this time in front of our fans.”
History being made in Nasice
The club from Croatia had a memorable season in 2017/18. They reached the quarter-finals of the EHF Cup where they beat Füchse Berlin, who later won the competition, 28:20, only to lose the away match 16:25 for an aggregate result of 44:45. Therefore, they missed the final tournament by one goal.
On home ground, Nexe secured their 11th consecutive Croatian vice-champion title and another second place in the Cup. The start of the 2018/19 season hinted that this year might be even better.
Nexe claimed an historic win over long-time rivals PPD Zagreb. It was a pure boost of confidence as later on they collected more wins and secured a place at their first SEHA-Gazprom League Final 4. They wish to end the season with at least one trophy in Croatia, which would be also a first.
President Ergovic is proud and satisfied with all the work being done in Nasice: “We are on our desired path. Our objective is the quarter-finals of the EHF Cup and then we need a bit of luck to make a step forward, compared to last season. We missed out as we lost to Berlin at the end by only one goal, if we look at the overall result. That was a good indication that we are capable of big things.”
Developing promising young talents
The ‘Thunders from Krndija hill’ (club nickname) story began in 1959 under the name Partizan, then Nask, Kobra Jeans and Nasice, before becoming Nexe in 2006/07 when their rise really started – and continues to this day. So far, the club are doing an excellent job in developing talented players and promoting handball in that part of Croatia.
“Our club is a springboard for many foreign players and Croatia national team members, but also a lot of young talented players want to come to Nexe. That is our ambition – to develop young players who will afterward find their spot in the best European clubs.”
Nasice’s aspiration is to pursue the development of handball, to go step by step. They do not want instant triumph. The idea is to become an important part of Croatian and European handball in a brief period of time and to improve their handball academy. The club are planning to extend the existing hall over the next two years, to have stands on all four sides and VIP space, and also to upgrade other facilities.
Perhaps, in a few years, Nasice will become an unbeatable fortress for top European clubs.Author: Danijela Lemaic / cg