Kobetic and Cindric voted EHF Players of the Month in April
The handball season is slowly coming to its end as the deciding matches in all European Cup competitions are coming up.
With lots of players excelling in the important games, the panel of correspondents throughout Europe had their work cut out to nominate the EHF Player of the Month for April.
Among many players, two names have stood out - and they are both Croatian: Andrea Kobetic from Siófok Hungary KC and Luka Cindric from PGE Vive Kielce.
Kobetic and Cindric have both been voted best player in their native Croatia in 2017 and 2018, while Kobetic holds another seven titles from before 2014.
Kobetic: “Last month was turbulent, but I am satisfied”
Siófok are writing a history. The Hungarian club has not won a major title in their past and they are ambitious to change that. A part of that story is Andrea Kobetic, one of the best Croatian players.
“'April was turbulent for us. We had tough matches in the Hungarian championship alongside European ones,” she says. “It was stressful both physically and mentally. It was all worth it as we reached the EHF Cup Final and we have reached our goals in the domestic competition.”
Playing under her maiden name Penezic, she started her career in Zagreb with Lokomotiva. Later she joined PodravkaVegeta, Krim Mercator, Vardar and now Siófok. Kobetic, also a key player for the national team, has been named best player of the Balkan country nine times in total.
“'After 10 years of playing EHF Champion League, this is my first time in the EHF Cup. I’m really honoured to receive this award and that my work is recognised. Among all EHF competitions there are many amazing players and when your name stands out, that is a great feeling,” Kobetic says.
On Saturday 11 May at 20:30 hrs (live on ehfTV.com) Kobetic and Siofok must beat Team Esbjerg - after their 21:21 draw in last week’s first leg - to win that first European Cup trophy. The match is taking place in Siófok, a small city in Hungary which loves handball and whose supporters are giving the team additional win in the back this season.
Kobetic has played European Cup finals before. With Vardar she reached the Women’s EHF Champions League Final twice - but lost both times to Györ.
“I expect a great atmosphere in our arena and I expect to win this game,” Kobetic says. “The first match was a tie and we will give our best to make our fans happy and to fulfil this dream about being the best in the EHF Cup.”
Kobetic sat on the EHF Champions League top scorer throne two times. Now, she can take the honours in the EHF Cup as well. Currently on 69 goals, she trails leading scorer Helen Fauske of Herning-Ikast by a single goal.
Cindric: “It means so much to me to be back in Cologne”
PGE Vive Kielce have found their way to Cologne once more. The Polish team is coming back to the LANXESS arena, three years after they upset Veszprém in the final and took the title after a penalty shootout.
Although he wasn’t with Kielce back then, Luka Cindric has also lived the dream and raised the trophy at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 before - with Vardar in 2017, edging Paris-Saint Germain 24:23 in the final.
“It means so much to me to be back in Cologne. I have only good memories from the LANXESS arena and hopefully I can repeat them with Kielce this season. It would be an amazing finish of the season,” says Cindric, one of Croatia’s leading players.
Both Cindric and his club had a difficult period, but they managed to get back stronger. High hope and courage were pushing them forward and the highlight of that came in April. Kielce defeated PSG by 10 goals in the first leg of the quarter-final, opening the door to another appearance at the VELUX EHF FINAL4.
“We were struggling during the season with a lot of injuries. April was tough for all of us but we have great fans and they give us additional energy,” Cindric says. “We are thrilled that we secured a place at the VELUX EHF FINAL4, especially against a team like PSG. We will do our best to win against Veszprém and play for the title.”
Cindric is one of the key players both in the Croatian national team as well as in the club. So, awards are not new to him. Apart from being a two-time Croatian player of the year, he has been repeatedly named player of the round in the VELUX EHF Champions League and EF Player of the Month. And he was voted EHF Player of the Year in 2017.
“It’s always nice to be recognised by media for your performance on the court. I had a tough season with a lot of injuries but still finished on a high level. I will try my best to justify this recognition,” Cindric says.
EHF Player of the Month - April 2019
1. Luka Cindric (CRO) - PGE Vive Kielce
2. Vladimir Cupara (SRB) - PGE Vive Kielce
3. Ludovic Fabregas (FRA) - Barça Lassa
4. Igor Karacic (CRO) - HC Vardar
5. Roland Mikler (HUN) - Telekom Veszprém KC
1. Andrea Kobetic (CRO) - Siófok Hungary KC
2. Lois Abbingh (NED) - Rostov-Don
3. Katrine Lunde (NOR) - Vipers Kristiansand
4. Stine Oftedal (NOR) - Györi Audi ETO KC
5. Iuliia Managarova (RUS) - Rostov-Don