GB handball coach Djukic quits to take charge of Israel
Monday, 30 April 2012
April 30 - British handball's men's coach Dragan Djukic (pictured) is to leave after this summer's Olympic Games to take charge of Israel.
Djukic was introduced as the new coach of the Israeli national team yesterday, and in a statement given to insidethegames British Handball confirmed that he would see out his London 2012 commitments before leaving.
"British Handball can confirm that the head coach of their men's team, Dragan Djukic, will move on to become coach of the Israeli national team on September 1," the statement read.
"Djukic is still very much committed to guiding the GB men's team through the London Olympics and helping to leave a lasting legacy for the sport across Great Britain."
Djukic, who speaks five languages, has this year already had to bat away reports that he was set to leave after being linked with moving to Russia.
The 50-year-old took over in 2009 but Britain has only won two games under his leadership.
Handball admittedly struggles to receive significant exposure in Britain, but it is hoped this can be altered by this summer's Olympics.
Britain is still far from being able to compete on level terms with its European rivals, but British Handball is hoping the team (pictured below, in blue against Israel) can be competitive at Rio 2016.
For Israel, however, the acquisition of the highly experienced Serb is a boost for its squad which will not compete at either this summer's Games or next year's World Championships.
Britain came up against Israel in qualifying for the World Championships, losing twice under Djukic who will now set his sights on taking his new nation to the European Championships in 2014.
"I want to establish here [Israel] a squad that will match the players and their qualities," Djukic said at a press conference, announcing his appointment in a four-year deal.
"We have two players, Chen Pomeranz and Avishay Smoler, who play in Germany, and we need to find more players who are willing to dedicate themselves to reaching the top.
"The most important thing is that the Israeli handball team changes and wants to change for the future of the sport in the country.
"I will not make this change alone, but with the support of the union, players and clubs."
Djukic, who has previously coached in the Middle East with Jordan as well as taking charge of Macedonia, enjoyed success at club level with Red Star Belgrade in his home country, Madeira in Portugal and Hungary's Pick Szeged.
Israeli Handball Association President Doron Simchi said: "There were many candidates, and among them all we found that most Dragan was right to lead the project.
"In collaboration with the association we will prepare a four-year programme, which will turn professional to lead the new-era handball side."
June 2009: British Handball appoints new head coach