The EHF EURO 2012 on home ground was the turning point in the history of Serbian handball. After many unsuccessful years of suffering, the Serbs sensationally managed to reach the Final after beating their arch rival Croatia in the semi-finals.
Even the final defeat against Denmark did not spoil the party, as this position granted them a place in the Olympic qualification - which they won to be part of the London tournament. During the Olympics Serbia could not reach the same level as on home ground and missed the quarter-final and once again at the 2013 World Championship in Spain, when they were eliminated by the host and eventual winner in the first knock-out stage.
Qualification for the EHF EURO 2014 was also in doubt after a defeat and a draw against Austria, the federation pulled the emergency break and sacked coach Veselin Vukovic, who had been the national hero only 15 months previous after winning silver. For the final two qualification matches at Russia and against Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbian born Swede Ljubomir Vranjes (coach of German side SG Flensburg-Handewitt) took over and managed to qualify for Denmark after round 5 thanks to the victory at Russia and the parallel draw of Austria at Bosnia.
One major task of new coach Vladan Matic will be to implement new players into the Serbian handball team. Most of the key players are coming to the end of their peak years, including legendary goalkeeper Darko Stanic, nicknamed "minister of defence", line player Rastko Stojkovic, left back Momir Ilic and defensive specialist Nikola Manojlovic. Another key for Serbian success in Denmark will be right back Marko Vujin.
Momir Ilic, the Most Valuable Player at the EHF EURO 2012, celebrated his national team debut in 2006 - at that time for the team that competed as Serbia and Montenegro - at the EHF EURO 2006 in Switzerland.
He played a key role in all the success the Serbian 'Eagles' recently enjoyed - especially at the EHF EURO 2012 on home court during which Ilic led the team all the way to the silver medal.
Being the team's captain he is still the inspiring figure in the Serbian game.At the beginning of the 2013/14 season he opened a new chapter in his handball by transferring from THW Kiel, the German club with which he won the VELUX EHF Champions League in 2010 and 2012, to MKB-MVM Veszprem in Hungary - a move that is also destined to set free new energy for the EHF EURO 2014 in January.
Serbia's goalkeeper Darko Stanic, nicknamed 'Minister of Defense' because of his outstanding skills between the posts, is one of the key players in Vladan Matic's squad.
Together with Momir Ilic he was at the forefront when Serbia won silver at the EHF EURO 2012 and when the team qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Serbia are not the same without his specific personality which attracts a lot of attention on and off the handball court.
At 35 years Stanic still makes big waves when he takes to the court for Macedonian side RK Metalurg Skopje. In the past three years, Stanic became one of the most popular athletes in two countries - Serbia and FYR Macedonia which tells a lot about the satisfaction he produces with his performances between the posts.
Darko Stanic made his international debut for Serbia in 2007.
After Momir Ilic left Germany and moved to Hungary in the summer of 2013, Marko Vujin, arguably one of the best left-handed players in handball, remained the only 'Serbian Eagle' at THW Kiel.
The right back with one of the most powerful shots did the exact opposite compared to his teammate Ilic.
Instead of moving to Hungary after seven seasons with THW Kiel, he joined the German top club in 2012 after having played for seven years in Veszprem. He was also part of the Serbian team that won silver at the EHF EURO 2012.
The EHF EURO 2014 will be his second appearance at this level and his ability to score from 10 to 11 metres distance will be one of the biggest threats for all Serbian opponents in Denmark.
THE COACH - Vladan Matic
In October 2012 Vladan Matic became the fifth head coach to lead the Serbian ‘Eagles’ since 2006.
The 43-year-old coach from Sabac had a great playing career in which he won the bronze with Yugoslavia at World Championships 1999 and 2001.
His coaching career began with Hungarian club Pick Szeged in 2007 when he made a great success by winning the Hungarian Championship by beating the ‘unbeatable Veszprem’ in the Play-Off Final.
It was the last domestic championship that Szeged, the team for which Matic had also played for as left wing for six years before he began his coaching career, celebrated.
Following his stint with Szeged, Matic worked as assistant coach for the Hungarian national team, but also at FTC Budapest before he moved to Slovenian side RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko in 2011.
He is still working for the Slovenian team, with whom he won the national cup and played reached the VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16 in the 2012/13 season.
Past Performance at EHF EURO Events
|*as Serbia and Montenegro|