The list caused a shock - why did the coach erase the captain like an eraser?

Bojana Popović decided not to take national team captain Milena Raičević to the World Cup, who was recently sent by Budućnost Bemax to the development team due to a lawsuit against the club

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Photo: Boris Pejović
Photo: Boris Pejović

All the rosters for the World Cup were submitted no later than the middle of last week, only one more was waiting, because it was obviously known that it would be scandalous - Bojana Popović was the last to announce the names of 19 handball players for the championship in Denmark, Sweden and Norway, and there is no captain among them Milena Raičević!

As if with an eraser, the head coach of Montenegro erased the girl who participated in all the successes of the "lionesses", along with Marina Rajcic the only winner of all four handball medals since the restoration of independence - from the junior world bronze in 2010 in Korea, through Olympic silver and European gold in 2012, to 3rd place at the EHF Euro 12 months ago.

Why did Popović decide to get rid of the girl who, until a month ago, was irreplaceable for her both in Budućnost Bemax and in the national team? The answer to that question will be sought today, at the first training session, although it is clear why it all happened.

Raičević has recently been "on ice" at the club, because she requested wages from the 2020/2021 season through the EHF Arbitration Court, when she was in a different state, which is why she was sent to the Rudar branch.

The question is, however, what does it have to do with the national team? The selector and head of the professional staff of the biggest Montenegrin club knew about the lawsuit of her former teammate for a long time, but it did not bother her to keep her in the game for almost 60 minutes in the first five matches of the Champions League, nor to call her for the qualifying match with Turkey a little more than month.

In the meantime, the club decided to remove the captain's armband and send her to the development team, but few believed that Popović would give her up for the World Cup.

Milena Raičević
photo: Boris Pejović

She had many reasons to call her - Raičević played quite correctly (against Turkey she came in with the score 6:7 and recorded two goals and as many as 11 assists in the 39:23 victory), she is the leader of this selection, and the other defenders are far from the right form or they are off the field.

Đurđine Jauković absent due to serious injury, Itana Grbić scored only 10 goals for Crimea in eight rounds of the Champions League, Đurđina Malović does not shine in Romania, Jelena Despotović after great editions at the 2020 European Championship, collected very few minutes due to a shoulder injury and absence due to pregnancy...

Exclusive Matea Pletikosic she is playing in great form in the Romanian Korona and it is clear that the girl who is synonymous with all the successes of Montenegro and the Future would be useful as well.

Unfortunately, the problem from Buducnosti spilled over to the national team, although it shouldn't have been related.

Perhaps it was because of this decision that Popović waited until the last hour to publish the list, so that she would not suffer the fate of her predecessors - Dragan Adzic was replaced two days before the start of preparations for the 2017 World Cup, Per Johansson 12 days before EHF Euro 2020, a Kim Rasmussen a week after qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, which was a condition for the contract extension.

With this decision, the national coach caused the odium of the public, but also put herself in a stalemate, because she took responsibility for the result in the north of Europe.

Anything but the quarter-finals at the World Cup, and for the two places in it the most serious competitors will be Hungary, Sweden and Croatia, would be a failure and at the same time make the battle for the Olympic Games in Paris more difficult...

The return of Bobana Klikovac

On the list for the World Cup is Korona Brašov's pivot, Bobana Klikovac, who has not played for the national team since March 2021 and the Olympic qualifiers in Podgorica.

Of the players who won bronze at the European Championship 12 months ago, apart from Raičević and Đurđina Jauković, there are also Ljubica Nenezić and Ilda Kepić, as well as Jovanka Radičević (who said goodbye to the national team) and Ema Alivodić (who ended her career).

Nada Ćorović, Jelena Vukčević and Anastasija Marsenić will compete for the first major competition. Radičević's long-time first replacement on the right wing, Dijana Ujkić, was not invited.

From November 30 to December 4 in Helsingborg, Sweden, Montenegro will play in sequence with Cameroon, Paraguay and Hungary, and then in Gothenburg they will meet three selections from group A, which includes Sweden, Croatia, China and Senegal.

List - goalkeepers: Marina Rajčić and Marta Batinović.

Left wings: Ivona Pavićević, Dijana Mugoša and Nađa Kadović.

Right wings: Nina Bulatović and Anastasija Marsenić.

Pivot girls: Tatjana Brnović, Ivana Godeč, Bobana Klikovac and Andrijana Popović.

Backs: Jelena Despotović, Nada Ćorović, Itana Grbić, Matea Pletikosić, Đurđina Malović, Jelena Vukčević, Nataša Ćorović and Tanja Ivanović.

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