In the past, Vardar was known for its aggressive defense and excellent goalkeepers. They won 2 titles in the EHF Champions' League and five in the SEHA League. Players were coming and going, and every season we had a team that was "terror" in the court.
But it was time for a change and Vardar got a new goalkeeper. Now, Arturs Kugis and Khalifa Ghebdane, along with the young Marko Kizic, are among the goal stands. They should be the new "Commanders of defense" to assure players that when a ball passes through their hands, it will be stopped by the goalkeepers.
Of course, it takes time for everything to fall into place and Vardar to be invincible again in this part of the game. The results indicate that we are on the right track. After six rounds in the EHF Champions' League we have four triumphs and are on the second place on the table. In the SEHA League we are fighting for the first place in our group with a good chance of skipping the 1/8 finals.
Among the new members of Vardar this season is Latvia's national player Arturs Kugis who got a chance to succeed Vardar's excellent goalkeepers. Following his experience in Germany, Kugis now faces new challenges, the SEHA Gazprom League and the EHF Champions' League.
Kugis' quality is undeniable, and everyone expects him to "explode" quickly and become the new defense leader. He proved that in several matches. Over time, his saves have improved.
* You have been in Vardar for several months. What are your impressions?
"My impressions are good. I feel good here from day one and I think I did a great job with the decision to come to Vardar.
* Do you miss anything?
"I don't miss anything when it comes to handball. I miss some of my friends and family, but that's normal when it comes to sports life.
* How different is to play in Vardar compared to the previous clubs where you have played?
"The difference between Vardar and all the other clubs is big. This is the most professional club and the highest level I have played at. I have played against national players, but here the competition is bigger and I have a chance to play against teams in the Champions' League and the SEHA Gazprom League. The competition is much bigger now.
* You're on the road almost all the time due to many matches in the SEHA and the Champions' League. Does that affect your performance and results?
"It was not easy for me at the beginning, because we have to travel a lot. But the club always provides us with one or two extra days before guest matches and we have time to prepare for all challenges.
* It is difficult to inherit Shterbik and Milosavljev. Everyone expects Kugis to be at the same level.
"I don't know what other people or players expect. But I am who I am, and I try to give my best in every training session, every game. Shterbik and Milosavljev are world class goalkeepers and I want to play at level too.
* Each player has their own story when choosing a jersey number. What is your story?
"My jersey number is 92. I was born in 1992. When I started playing abroad, the first number I chose was 92.
* Is there anything you love most about Vardar?
"I love the way people support us. They stay with us in good times and bad times. After each match they sing songs for us and give us enormous support.
* The previous season many did not trust Vardar, and the club reached Cologne and won the title. Where do you see Vardar at the end of this season?
Last year, Vardar showed that everything is possible. You may be 1st, 2nd, 3rd in the group ... but you still have a chance to play in Cologne. It is now important that all players recover from injuries, heal and be able to stay healthy until the end of the season. And the season is long and everything is possible.