When Ljubomir Obradovic became head coach of the Serbia women’s national team in April 2017, it marked a new era. Several key players who won the World Championship 2013 silver medal returned to the squad after a break of a few years during which the team struggled to replicate previous results, and Serbia are now as much of a threat to the podium as ever.
After reaching the EHF EURO 2012 Semi-finals, finishing fourth, and claiming the silver medal at the Women’s World Championship 2013, Serbia’s rankings plummeted to 15th at both the EURO 2014 and World Championship 2015. But with Obradovic in charge at the World Championship 2017, Serbia topped their preliminary group ahead of the Netherlands, who would go on to win the bronze medal. After their undefeated group phase, Serbia entered the knock-out round hopeful, but lost narrowly to Montenegro and had to settle for ninth place.
With a squad led by EHF Champions League stars such as Andrea Lekic and Dragana Cvijic, Serbia not only have the talent – there is also strong motivation to achieve big results. Serbia will travel to France with all the tools and the determination to improve on their previous EURO ranking (ninth).
31-year-old centre back Andrea Lekic has had a distinguished career but is still hungry for success with the national team in particular. Lekic was a part of the Serbia roster that claimed the silver medal at the IHF World Championship 2013. She won the IHF World Handball Player of the Year award for 2013, before taking a break from the national team. As of 2017, Lekic has been back playing for Serbia, starting with the World Championship in Germany.
The former playmaker for RK Krim Mercator, Györi Audi ETO KC and HC Vardar has made it to every edition of the EHF FINAL4 and hopes to do so again in 2018/19 with her new team, Romanian powerhouse CSM Bucuresti. Lekic also has a strong wish to finish her national team career by playing at the 2020 Olympic Games – but first, her sights are set on the EHF EURO 2018.
Famously tough line player Dragana Cvijic has followed a similar professional path to that of her older teammate Andrea Lekic. After playing for Slovenian club RK Krim Mercator, the 28-year-old spent six seasons with Buducnost, winning two EHF Champions League trophies (2012 and 2015). She moved to Vardar for 2017/18 then on to her third station together with Lekic: top Romanian side CSM Bucuresti.
Cvijic has played a key role in Serbia’s major successes – fourth at the EHF EURO 2012 and silver at the World Championship 2013, both in front of home fans in Belgrade. She was selected as the All-star Team line player at the World Championship 2013 and for the EHF Champions League 2017/18.
Ljubomir Obradovic was appointed head coach for the Serbia women’s national team in April 2017, making the EHF EURO 2018 the second championship with him leading the team. With Obradovic at the helm, Serbia finished ninth at the IHF Women’s World Championship 2017 in Germany, then qualified for the EURO as the group winners ahead of Sweden.
The 64-year-old has enjoyed a successful career in different countries, but his winning series with Portuguese FC Porto will be remembered most of all, as he took six consecutive domestic championship titles between 2009 and 2015. Obradovic won the Portuguese title with Belenenses, as well as national titles in Serbia (RK Crvena Zvezda) and FYR Macedonia (HC Vardar). He also coached Montenegro at the Men’s EHF EURO 2016.
Obradovic’s biggest national team success was a gold medal with the Yugoslav junior team at the M20 EHF EURO 2000 in Greece.
Past Performance at EHF EURO Events
|2008||FYR Macedonia||13th places|
|*qualified as Yugoslavia|
|** qualified as Serbia & Montenegro|