Croatia Set to Battle for World Handball Gold

By , 10 Jan 2017, 14:37 PM Sport
Croatia Set to Battle for World Handball Gold Source: Croatian Handball Federation

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After the last three large tournaments - World Championship in Qatar 2015, European Championship in Poland and Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 - Croatia won only one medal, a bronze from Poland. The national handball team faces a new challenge: World Championship set for 11 to 29 January in France

Interestingly, Croatian handballers were defeated in both Rio de Janeiro and Doha in quarterfinals by Poland. We played Poland at the last European championship, still remembering the "Krakow miracle," a 37-23 Croatian win in one of the most incredible matches in the history of Croatian sport. That win pushed the team into semi-finals and then a bronze medal, Jutarnji list reported on January 10, 2017.

Croatia has a total of five medals - one gold, three silvers and one bronze. The greatest success was made in 2003 in Portugal where they won the only world gold medal. At that tournament the team opened with a shocking defeat by Argentina, followed by eight wins for a great celebration.

Croatia made it three more times to finals (1995, 2005 and 2009), being defeated every time. In Iceland we lost to France, then years later in Tunisia to Spain and in 2009 in Zagreb to France again. The last medal in world championships for Croatian handballers came in 2013 in Spain where they were third. After losing to Denmark in the semi-finals, they defeated Slovenia.

There are 24 nations competing, 14 of them from Europe. Teams are divided into four groups of six teams. There is no second round of competition, with the four best teams in each group moving on to eighth-finals.

Croatia is in group C with Germany, Belarus, Hungary, Chile and Saudi Arabia. Potential opponents in eighth-finals are Qatar, Denmark, Sweden, Egypt, Bahrain and Argentina.

The championship will be played in eight towns (Paris, Lille, Montpellier, Albertville, Metz, Brest, Rouen), with 650.000 tickets on sale.

For the first time in the history of world championships a video system will be used, "Video Proof System," tested at the women's European championship in Sweden. The system will be used in only two cases: checking if the ball crossed the goal line and if a goal was scored before halftime or the game end.

The best candidates for medals are Olympic champions Denmark, European champions Germany and traditionally Spain and Croatia. Surprises may come from Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Hungary.

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