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Kiril Lazarov: „Doha shall be our launching pad to Rio 2016„

Kiril Lazarov Macedonia

Kiril Lazarov is a sniper, a real goal machine in international handball, a top scorer in all competitions he's been part of. In 2009 he became the best scorer ever at a single World Championship by netting in 92 times. In 2012 he took the same "title" - best scorer of a single European Championship - by scoring 61 times at the EURO in Serbia.

Twice he was the top scorer of the EHF Champions League and the Macedonian holds another record: competing in all five IHF Super Globe events in Doha since 2010, starting with Al-Sadd (2010), followed by two appearances and one title with Atletico Madrid (2011, 2012) and two titles with FC Barcelona (2013, 2014). In January the 35 year old, who started his career in Bitola (Macedonia) before he became a top star in Veszprem (Hungary), Zagreb (Croatia), Madrid and Barcelona, will return to Doha full of confidence that the Macedonian team can make it to the eighth-finals. In this interview with Lazarov comments on his expectations for the 2015 World Championship and his ambitions with FC Barcelona.

You won the IHF Super Globe title twice before, once with Madrid and in 2013 with Barcelona. Now you were back on the podium in Doha - an expected third title?

Kiril Lazarov: I am a very ambitious person. If there is a title to win, I always want to get this trophy. But as the level of performance at the IHF Super Globe is increasing year by year and the non-European teams managed to bridge the gap, it gets harder and harder every year to be on top of this competition. You saw that Champions League winner Flensburg was eliminated by Al-Sadd in the semi. A lot of European top players have joined those clubs and spread their class. It is my fifth preparation at the IHF Super Globe in Doha - so I have been part of every event since 2010 when it's constantly played in Doha - and in 2014 it was by far the highest level.

You mentioned SG Flensburg-Handewitt. Were you disappointed that you did not face the German side in the final after the defeat in the Champions League semi-final in Cologne?

Kiril Lazarov: In my long career this was the most shocking match, I was really completely down on the floor. Seven minutes before the end we were ahead by six and only needed to go through the door to the final. But then we missed it. It was truly hard to recover from such a defeat. So we had hoped for a little revenge to beat them in Doha, but even if it would have happened, it could not have rewarded us for missing the Champions League final. Now we face them twice in the group phase of the Champions League.

So the ambitions of FC Barcelona in the Champions League remain the same as usual - making it to the FINAL4 tournament in Cologne?

Kiril Lazarov: Indeed it is our goal, but so many teams have the same ambition this year and have a really high quality in their squads. I believe we can expect the best Champions League season.

Do you believe that it is an advantage for FC Barcelona that you can mainly focus on the Champions League as there are no more real opponents in the Spanish league anymore?

Kiril Lazarov: The Spanish league is not as strong as it was three or four years ago, but still there are some good clubs we have to be aware of. The quality of the players is still high and the Spanish youth and junior teams are among the top 4 of the world in all competitions. But indeed we have the strongest team in Spain and our ambitions are high. But still we have to have respect for all our opponents.

Is the Barcelona squad stronger or weaker compared to last season?

Kiril Lazarov: It is hard to say at this early moment of the season. We lost Arpad Sterbik, one of the best goalkeepers in the world, so we have to see how our young new goalkeeper Vagas de Perez develops. But on the other hand our squad has rehearsed one year more, so the experience has grown.

In January Doha will again be your destination when you arrive with the Macedonian team for the World Championship in Qatar. What are the expectations for this pinnacle event?

Kiril Lazarov: High, truly very high. We have a very strong national team with highly experienced players. And after we faced some problems at the 2014 European champions I hope that the time has come to show what we are capable of in Doha. It is our clear goal to do better than we did at the 2013 World Championship and the 2014 EURO. Though we play in a very strong group we are confident and ambitious. I hope that - despite the big distance from our country to Qatar - a lot of our fans will travel to Doha to support us. With them we are much stronger.

Is there any certain goal for the World Championship?

Kiril Lazarov: We want to go step by step and at that time it is not possible to predict a final result. But we want to use this World Championship as a launching pad for our great dream to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. For generations all Macedonians hope for this step, we want to do it now - and therefore we need a good result at the World Championship to secure a spot in the qualification tournaments.

During the IHF Super Globe you experienced the first World Championship venue, the Qatar Handball Association Complex. Did you like it?

Kiril Lazarov: It is a top arena with perfect conditions. I really have no words to express what I think about this arena and the whole organisation of the World Championship. Everything is perfect!