Partizan U-19`s are on a great run under the guidance of coach Nenad Brnovic this season. Although the team suffered lots of changes compared to the last season, U-19`s are battling for the top spot and we spoke to coach Nenad Brnovic during the international break on the season so far and targets set.
Your team played 13 league games so far, winning 11 and drawing 2. How significant is it to have a large number of players contributing this season?
“Large roster is quite important, it gives us more options in the game. Young players cannot have continuity all the way to the winter break so it`s good when you have quality replacements as we do. This season, we have two quality players for each position, players who can contribute at any time”, says Brnovic.
Partizan tops the standings with 35 points. Second-placed Crvena Zvezda tails 5 points with two games in hand. Is there a huge pressure not to drop any points?
“League is quite even and any team can beat any other team. Standings itself are not showing the real quality of some of the teams. As we work in Partizan, pressure is always there but that only adds to our motivation to be fully focused at all times and to always be at our best. That`s something we ask from our players from the start and they themselves have to get used to such pressure, to battle it, as they are going to face with more of it once they reach senior level”
Top spot is not just the matter of prestige, the stakes are the Youth Champions League as well. Is that your target this season?
“We would all love to win the title after 15 years of drought but our main target is to train and prepare players for the senior team. It would be good to finish the season as champions as it would mean we did the both – developed the kids and won the competition. Anyhow, these are our priority goals this season”.
Partizan was on a great run even before the derby win. Did the team gain even more energy after beating Crvena Zvezda?
“Surely, the derby win did a lot for our confidence as it`s always nice when you beat your bitter rivals. But, if you want to win the title, the key games are those against so-called minnows. We should not drop points there as this league is extremely tough”.
Partizan youths always join the senior team in big numbers. This season, we have Bazdar and Milovanovic, while Vlahovic and Petkovic are on the list of players licenced for European competition. Is that a problem for you in your title battle, losing players to the senior team? How do you communicate with senior team boss Aleksandar Stanojevic on that matter?
“I have to say there`s great communication with boss Stanojevic, We understand the senior team is club`s priority but Stanojevic is more than ready to send us back all the players we need to keep battling for the youth title. But, even if he needs a certain player in his team, we always have suitable replacements to make the numbers up”.
You have a number of players away on international break. How hard is it to get back on the right track after intl. break when you have players away working with different teammates and coaching staff?
“We know what it means playing for the national team and how important it is for kids, We monitor all our players away on international break and the number of minutes they played so that we would be able to get them back into our pace and demands once they return. It`s more about psychology than anything else, we try to talk with them to get them to our normal activities as soon as possible”, said Brnovic.