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Ćuk seeking to nurture Croatian talent

Centre Zagreb AMA coach Sreten Ćuk says player development rather than on-field success is his main focus as they look forward to hosting the UEFA Regions' Cup, while Ľubomír Bohúň talked up Bratislava AMA's chances.

Sreten Ćuk is hopeful some of his players will turn professional
Sreten Ćuk is hopeful some of his players will turn professional ©Sportsfile

Centre Zagreb AMA coach Sreten Ćuk says it is player development rather than on-field success that is his main point of focus as his side look forward to hosting the 6th UEFA Regions' Cup.

Section rivals
The Croatian outfit are in Group A of Europe's flagship amateur competition alongside Slovakia's Bratislava AMA, Romanian representatives Oltenia AMA and the first Russian team to qualify for the tournament proper, Privolzhie AMA. While acknowledging that as hosts there is an element of pressure on his team, Ćuk knows that winning the competition is not the be-all and end-all and is more concerned with helping players to achieve their dreams of signing for a professional club.

Professional ambitions
"If we can get the right result that would be nice but for me as a coach the most important thing is my regional role," Ćuk told uefa.com. "This is the finishing process. I have maybe five players that are being looked at by professional clubs, who scouted them during friendly matches, and if one or two of them after the tournament turn professional then I would be very happy."

'Ambitious team'
Ćuk says he does not "know anything" about Bratislava, Centre Zagreb's opponents at 17.30CET today, while his opposite number, Ľubomír Bohúň, expects the hosts to play in a similar style to the Croatian national side. Bratislava warmed up for the tournament with a 1-1 draw against SK Slovan Bratislava's B team and a 2-0 defeat of local side Stupava, leaving Bohúň optimistic of their chances. "It's a hard group but we have prepared very well," he said. "We can win it; we have a good, ambitious team with good players and there is a positive atmosphere within the squad."

Previous experience
Oltenia play Privolzhie, also at 17.30, in the section's other match, the Romanians having played in the final tournament in 2005 under the name of Dacia Amateur. While only one of that squad is here in Croatia – defender Claudiu Sodoleanu – coach Sorinel Patrascu believes he can use the experience in Bulgaria four years ago to his benefit. "Our qualification for the last finals is very useful," he said. "We may make changes to the team, but our system remains the same."

Prolific form
Privolzhie were the highest scorers of the eight finalists in qualifying, striking 13 times in three Intermediary round matches, a record which gives weight to Patrascu's view that the group is "very difficult". Proud that his players are flying the Russian flag for the first time in the finals, coach Dmitry Golubev is anticipating not only a stern test against Oltenia, but also an exciting tournament. "It will be very interesting," he said. "The strongest teams in Europe are here."