|13 June 2014|
|Igor Polenek, seen here coaching Uniqa Euroleasing Sopron|
Serbia head coach Igor Polenek is preparing himself and his players for the test which lies await next month at the U20 European Championship for Women in Udine.
The play-caller, who also holds the reins at UE Sopron where he took his team to the EuroLeague Women play-offs last season, will pit his wits against Slovak Republic, Sweden and Ukraine in Group C.
Polenek is currently focusing on preparation and ensuring his team are in the best possible physical and mental shape, with hopes high of making an impact when they step out in Italy.
Indeed the coach has explicitly stated he expects a top-eight finish.
He said, "The players are fighting for a place in the best team that will participate at the U20 Championship.
"After testing and medical evaluation, we have started with some of the serious work.
"Our main test will be very strong preparation tournaments in Turkey and France and we will play a total of seven friendly games.
"This generation is well known and have been together for four years and they have won medals in the cadet and junior competition," continued Polenek.
"The goal is to place in the quarter-finals and then anything is possible.
"But first we must prepare well, get around any injuries and provide the maximum in every game.
"We should also remind ourselves that during the last 14 years, we have only twice been on the podium at the U20 European Championship."
There is also likely to be a very poignant moment when Serbia play Slovakia in their opener. For they will do so without Natasa Kovacevic and that will be an emotional moment for her team-mates.
Kovacevic lost her lower leg in a traffic accident last year and was one of the headline acts of this generation - a true leader both on and off the floor. This is evidenced by the fact this would have been her third appearance at the competition.
However Kovacevic may still be in attendance, having been appointed as the FIBA Europe Youth Ambassador.