Monday, 4 July 2022

Croatia Opponents Revealed in 2023 Handball World Cup Group Stage

July 4, 2022 - Croatia will face the USA and two yet-to-be-revealed African teams in the 2023 Handball World Cup group stage in January. 

Croatia will play in Group G, and its opponents will be the United States of America and two African national teams - the champion and the third-placed team from the championship there, which will be held in July.

Coach Hrvoje Horvat spoke about the interesting draw: 

"We wanted to avoid the European teams from the third and fourth pot, and let me remind you that Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia, and the Netherlands were there, and we succeeded. The champion of Africa and the third-place finisher from that continent certainly deserve maximum attention. Theoretically, it can happen that it will be Egypt and Tunisia, which is a completely different story, and the draw no longer looks so simple. But we'll see what happens. The good thing about all this is that we can already start scouting and analyzing them because the championship for these national teams starts in ten days. I would only like for us to be complete and not repeat a situation like at the European Championship in Hungary when we had corona. I do not doubt that Croatia will be in good form. It's a good draw in the sequel as well. I am an optimist and believe we will be great at that championship."

At the World Cup in January next year, 32 national teams will compete, which are divided into eight groups, and the group in which Croatia is in the second round crosses with group H, where Denmark, Belgium, Bahrain, and an African national team, which will take fourth place in the continental championship.

The Handball World Cup will be held from January 11 to 29 next year.

Handball World Cup 2023 (groups):

Group A (Krakow): Spain, Montenegro, Chile, Iran

Group B (Katowice): France, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia

Group C (Göteborg): Sweden, Brazil, Africa 2, Uruguay

Group D (Kristianstad): Iceland, Portugal, Hungary, South Korea

Group E (Katowice): Germany, Qatar, Serbia, Africa 5

Group F (Krakow): Norway, Sj. Macedonia, Argentina, Netherlands

Group G (Jönköping): Africa 1, Croatia, Africa 3, USA

Group H (Malmö): Denmark, Belgium, Bahrain, Africa 4

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Sunday, 30 January 2022

2023 World Handball Championship Qualifiers: Croatia Learns Potential Opponents

January 30, 2022 - The draw for both rounds of the 2023 World Handball Championship qualifiers was held in Budapest on Saturday. 

The draw took place in two phases, as there are two qualifying rounds. Thus, the first to be drawn was the national teams that have already passed the first round of qualifications by groups, i.e., those ranked from 15th to 24th place at this European Championship, reports HRS.

UKRAINE - FINLAND
ITALY - SLOVENIA
PORTUGAL - SWITZERLAND
AUSTRIA - ESTONIA
GREECE - BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
NORTHERN MACEDONIA - ROMANIA
ISRAEL - LITHUANIA
SLOVAKIA - BELGIUM
FARO ISLANDS - BELARUS

The first matches will be played from March 16 to 17, and the return matches on March 19 to 20, 2022. The first-named national teams are the hosts in the first matches.

The second round of qualifications was then drawn. Russia and Ukraine could not face each other. Therefore, Russia was drawn first and will play against the winner of Slovakia - Belgium. The Croatia men's national handball team will thus play against the winner between Ukraine and Finland in the 2023 World Handball Championship qualifications, which is being played in Sweden and Poland next year. 

RUSSIA - WINNER SLOVAKIA / BELGIUM
WINNER UKRAINE / FINLAND - CROATIA
WINNER GREECE / BiH - MONTENEGRO
WINNER PORTUGAL / SWITZERLAND - NETHERLANDS
WINNER ITALY / SLOVENIA - SERBIA
GERMANY - WINNER OF THE PHARE ISLANDS / BELARUS
CZECH REPUBLIC - WINNER SJ. MACEDONIA / ROMANIA
WINNER AUSTRIA / ESTONIA - ICELAND
WINNER ISRAEL / LITHUANIA - HUNGARY

The Croatia handball team is participating in the second round of qualifications, played in two games between April 11 and 17 this year.  The return match is played in Croatia.

Six European national teams have already won their place at the World Championships. These are hosts Sweden and Poland, Denmark as world champions, and France, Spain, and Norway.

"We can be happy with the draw. Ukraine is a slight favorite in the match against Finland. We saw them at this European Championship. They showed several young, very talented players. They will certainly include three to four of the best who were not at the Euros. Most have experience playing in the Champions League. Finland is somehow the weakest of the Scandinavian countries, but it is certainly not to be underestimated. But if Croatia is right, and we have no reason to doubt it, we should move on without major problems. Especially before we play the return match at home," said coach Hrvoje Horvat. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Monday, 24 January 2022

EHF Euro 2022 Main Round: Incredible Comeback - Croatia Tops Iceland 23:22!

January 24, 2022 - While Croatia could no longer hope for the Euro semifinals, a win against Iceland in the third match of the EHF Euro 2022 main round keeps them in the running for 5th place, and potentially direct qualification for next year's World Championships. An incredible turnaround saw Croatia top Iceland in the final seconds of Monday's match. 

After losing to Denmark, ending their hope for the semifinals, the Croatia national handball team still has two more matches to play. The first was today against Iceland, followed by Wednesday against the Netherlands.

Croatia and Iceland had played five times so far at the European Championships before this match, with four wins: 29:28 (2008), 31:29 (2012), 37:28 (2016), 29:22 (2018), and one 26:26 draw in 2010.

Although dramatically weakened by the coronavirus, Iceland managed to beat France by eight goals in the last match and inflict their heaviest defeat at the European Championships.

Croatia still has theoretical chances for third place in their group, which could bring 5th place at the Euros.

Furthermore, the fifth-place could decide which team will go directly to next year’s World Championships, with no qualifiers to be played in March and April this year. Namely, the Euro medal winners have a secure place at the World Champs, and Denmark, as the current world champions, are also already in. If Sweden, which is one of the hosts of the World Champs, along with Poland, reaches the semifinals, it will mean that the winner of the match for 5th place, which will be played on Friday, will also secure a spot at the tournament. 

Recap

After Iceland missed in the first attack, Martinovic scored for 0:1 Croatia in the 1st minute. Iceland finally equalized going into the 2nd minute. 

Iceland took the lead in the 5th minute for 2:1. Iceland made it 3:1 in the 7th minute. Cindric scored for 3:2 in the 9th minute. 

Iceland scored from 7 meters for 4:2 in the 10th minute. Lucin scored for 4:3 in the 12th minute.  Martinovic scored his second goal for 5:4 a minute later. 

Iceland led by 3 goals in the 16th minute - 7:4 - and by 4 goals a minute later (8:4), and 5 a minute after that (9:4).

Cupic scored from 7 meters for 9:5 with 9 minutes to go in the first half. Iceland scored for 10:5 in the 22nd. Cupic scored from 7 meters again a minute later - 10:6. 

Cupic scored for 7 meters again for 10:7 in the 25th minute and again in the 27th minute for 11:8 with 3 minutes to go. Martinovic scored for 12:9 with a minute to go. 

Lucin scored for -2 (11:9) at halftime. 

Srna scored the first goal for Croatia in the second half for -1 - 12:11. Maric made it 13:12 in the 33rd. 

Lucin equalized for 13:13 in the 35th minute! Martinovic put Croatia in the lead moments later - 13:14! 

Lucin scored for 14:15 Croatia in the 37th minute. Pesic was stellar in goal to keep Croatia ahead. Lucin put Croatia up by two goals in the 40th - 14:16!

Lucin scored for +3 - 14:17 - in the 42nd minute. Maric scored for +4 a minute later- 14:18. Jelinic made it 14:19 in the 44th! 

Cupic scored from 7 meters again for 14:20 in the 46th minute. Lucin scored for 17:21 with 12 minutes to go. 

Iceland came back to -1 with 10 minutes to go - 20:21, and they equalized in the 52nd minute for 21:21. 

Iceland retook the lead in the 54th minute for 22:21. Nacinovic equalized for 22:22 with 2 minutes left! Gadza put Croatia back ahead with 10 seconds to go for 22:23, which was the final score of the game! 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Saturday, 22 January 2022

EHF Euro 2022 Main Round: Denmark End Croatia's Semifinal Hope (27:25)

January 22, 2022 - Denmark ended Croatia's semifinal hope in the second match of the EHF Euro 2022 main round on Saturday night. 

The Croatia handball team played their second game of the European Championship main round against Denmark at 20:30. Denmark is the favorite not only in tonight's match but also to win the tournament, and Croatia needed a victory to stay in the game for the semifinals. 

Coach Hrvoje Horvat had Alilović, Pilipović, Čupić, Glavaš, Martinović, Ivić, Maraš, Cindrić, Gadža, Lučin, Slišković, Jelinić, Šipić, Marić, Načinović, and Gojun at his disposal tonight. Compared to the last game, Kristian Pilipović came in instead of Ivan Pešić, and right winger Mateo Maraš instead of left winger David Mandić.

Recap

Croatia didn't score in their first attack and Denmark scored for 1:0 in the 2nd minute. Cindric scored to equalize at 1:1 in the 4th minute. 

Denmark scored from 7 meters for 2:1. It was 3:1 for Denmark in the 5th minute. Lucin made it 3:2 a minute later. 

Lucin made it 4:3 in the 8th minute. Denmark scored for 5:3 in the 10th. 

Lucin scored for -1 Croatia - 5:4 - in the 12th minute. Denmark made it 6:4 in the 13th minute. Denmark was up by 3 in the 15th minute - 7:4. 

Alilovic made an incredible save to keep Denmark ahead only by 3 goals in the 16th minute, though they scored for 8:4 moments later, forcing a Croatia timeout. 

Maras scored for 8:5 in the 18th minute. Lucin scored for 8:6 moments later. 

Glavas made it 9:7 in the 20th and Martinovic 9:8 in the 21st. Maras put Croatia back to -1 for 10:9 in the 22nd. 

Maric equalized for 10:10 with 5 minutes to go in the first half! Cupic missed from 7 meters with two minutes to go. 

Denmark led by two goals in the final minute of the first half (12:10). Maric scored for -1 - 12:11 to end the first half. 

Denmark opened the second half with a goal for 13:11. Maric made it 13:12 in the 31st. 

Denmark led by 3 goals in the 33rdd - 15:12. Cupic scored for 15:12 moments later. 

Martinovic scored for 16:14 in the 35th. Jelinic scored for 17:15 in the 36th. Martinovic made it 18:16 in the 38th minute. 

Maric put Croatia down to just -1 in the 40th - 18:17. Denmark was up 20:17 in the 42nd minute. 

Cindric scored for 20:28 in the 44th minute. Jelinic scored for 21:19 a minute later. 

Maric scored for 22:20 in the 51st minute. It was 23:21 for Denmark with 8 minutes to go. 

Maric scored for 25:22 in 56th. Cupic made it 25:23 with 3 minutes to go. Maric scored for 26:24 with a minute and a half left. Maric scored again for 27:25, which was the final score. 

Croatia plays Iceland next on Monday. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Saturday, 15 January 2022

EHF Euro 2022: Croatia Beats Serbia 23:20!

January 15, 2022 - Croatia beats Serbia 23:20 in the second match of Group C at the EHF Euro 2022 in Szeged, Hungary. 

The Croatia men's handball team met Serbia on Saturday night to advance to the second round of the European Championship in Hungary. Recall, Croatia fell to France in the first match of Group C on Thursday. 

Coach Hrvoje Horvat is still battling the coronavirus among his players. Today, Zvonimir Srna and young goalkeeper Matej Mandić dropped out of the squad. This match saw the return of Luka Cindrić, which was certainly a huge advantage for Croatia. 

The hall tonight was also sold out, with around 8,000 fans estimated and several Croatia fans in the stands. 

Recap

The match started with Croatia's first attack saved by the Serbia keeper. A controversial foul on Cupic saw Marsenic receive a 2-minute suspension and Croatia retook possession. Serbia received another exclusion in the 2nd minute of the match. Croatia scored the first goal with 2 extra players for 1:0. 

Croatia intercepted the ball on Serbia's first attack and Cupic scored for 2:0 in the 3rd minute. Martinovic made it 3:0 in the 4th minute! 

Serbia made it 3:2 in the 7th minute. Jaganjac scored for 4:2 one minute later. Serbia made it 4:3 in the 10th. An incredible goal by Martinovic made it 5:3 in the 12th. Lucin scored for 6:4 two minutes later. 

Serbia scored a penalty to equalize for 6:6 in the 16th minute and took the lead for the first time in the match in the 18th minute (6:7). Jaganjac equalized for 7:7.  

Cindric put Croatia back in the lead in the 22nd minute for 8:7.  

Serbia retook the lead in the 26th minute for 8:9. Cindric equalized at 9:9 in the 27th minute. Lucin put Croatia back ahead a minute later for 10:9. 

A quick counter-attack saw Cindric score for 11:9 going into halftime. 

The second half started with no goals from either side in the first 3 minutes. Serbia scored for 11:10 in the 33rd. Martinovic scored for 12:10 moments later. 

Martinovic made it 13:12 in the 37th. Two huge saves by Sunjic stopped Serbia's attacks. Cupic made it +3 in the 39th - 14:11. 

Martinovic scored his 5th goal from a penalty for 15:12 in the 41st. Cupic scored for 16:13 a minute later! 

Lucin scored for 17:13 in the 44th and again in the 46th for 18:15. 

Cupic scored for +4 in the 49th minute - 19:15. Lucin made it 20:16 in the 53rd. Martinovic made it 21:17 with 4 minutes to go! 

Cupic scored for 22:18 with less than 2 minutes to go. Goalkeeper Sunjic scored in an empty goal for 23:18! The match ended 23:20 for Croatia!

Croatia plays Ukraine in the final match of Group C on Monday, January 17 at 18:00. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.  

Monday, 26 April 2021

EHF EURO Cup: Croatia Handball and Ivano Balić Together Again!

April 26, 2021 - Croatia handball and Ivano Balić are together again as the new assistant coach will guide the national team to new victories this week at the EHF EURO Cup. 

The Croatia handball team gathered this morning in Zagreb ahead of the EHF EURO Cup matches against Slovakia and Hungary.

On April 28 (Wednesday) and April 29 (Thursday) in Varaždin, the national team will play two matches against Slovakia and then travel to play Hungary in Veszprem.

There are many new names on coach Hrvoje Horvat's list, and the most resounding is the reinforcement in his coaching staff. Ivano Balić is back, who will be the right hand of the new coach. The new goalkeeper coach is Ninoslav Pavletić.

The national team has had a turbulent year: for the first time in 21 years, they failed to qualify for the Olympics, and in January, they experienced a debacle at the World Cup in Egypt.

Croatia has won the two matches they've played in the EURO Cup so far. In Osijek, Croatia celebrated against Hungary 31:27, and then in January, just before the World Cup, they defeated Spain 31:28.

Captain Domagoj Duvnjak, Željko Musa and Igor Karačić have been spared.

"This is a new role. The coach and I speak the same language. There are a lot of young players; we will need more time and more work. I think everything will come on its own. I came back because handball is my life. The goal is to improve the overall game. Croatia has potential, and we can do it. I have always helped young people throughout my career, and it is a challenge for me; it fulfills me, and I think I can help. I have no ambitions to be a coach; I am here to help Horvat. The goal is for the national team to progress, day by day," said Ivano Balić. 

"So far, I've watched the games as a fan. We were better in France than in Egypt, but I wouldn't go back in time. We need to look to the future."

"Due to the situation with COVID-19, Martinović, Cindrić, Mamić, and Ivanković dropped out of the list. We stopped there. Our first goal is to select players who can play in both directions to reduce the substitutions. That has been a problem for us so far. We have a lot of new faces, especially in the pivot position. Every coach has time, and then when he loses the national team, he has very little time. We must not wander; we must not waste time on it. We have to work patiently and find players who will follow my and Balić's vision for Euro 2022 in Slovakia and Hungary. I also worked with Ivan when he was an assistant to Željko Babić, and I led the young national team. We clicked. The coaching staff must blow in the same sail."

Player list:

Goalkeepers: 

IVAN PEŠIĆ – MC MESHKOV BREST
MORENO CAR – RK NEXE
MATEJ MANDIĆ – RK IZVIĐAČ CO

DAVID MANDIĆ – RK PPD ZAGREB
LOVRO MIHIĆ – ORLEN WISLA PLOCK
KARLO GODEC – RK DUBRAVA
IVAN ČUPIĆ – RK VARDAR 1961
VLADO MATANOVIĆ – RK PPD ZAGREB
FRAN MILETA – RK NEXE
LEON ŠUŠNJA – ORLEN WISLA PLOCK
TOMISLAV KUŠAN – HC EUROFARM PELISTER
NIKOLA GRAHOVAC – RK PPD ZAGREB
VERON NAČINOVIĆ – RK CELJE PIVOVARNA LAŠKO
MARKO MAMIĆ – SCDHFK LEIPZIG
HALIL JAGANJAC – RK NEXE
ANTE IVANKOVIĆ – RK DUBRAVA
LUKA CINDRIĆ – BARCA
DOMAGOJ PAVLOVIĆ – MT MELSUNGEN
TIN LUČIN – ABANCA ADEMAR LEON
IVAN MARTINOVIĆ – HC HANNOVER -BURGDORF
LUKA ŠEBETIĆ – TREMBLAY EN FRANCE HANDBALL
MATEO MARAŠ – HC EUROFARM PELISTER
 

Coaching staff: 
HRVOJE HORVAT, IZBORNIK
IVANO BALIĆ, TRENER
NINOSLAV PAVELIĆ, TRENER VRATARA
MILJENKO RAK, KONDICIJSKI TRENER

Source: Index.hr

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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Sunday, 8 November 2020

EHF Cup: Croatia Men's Handball Team Top Hungary in Osijek

November 8, 2020 - In its first appearance in the EHF Cup in Osijek, the Croatia men's handball team defeated Hungary 31-27 (17-13).

Since the World Handball Championship will be held in Egypt from January 13 to 31, 2021, these matches serve as good preparation for the big competition ahead.

It was the first game for the Croatian 'Cowboys' in nine months when they won silver at the European Championships in Sweden. Coach Lino Cervar could not count on about 10 standard national team members due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite that, Croatia led throughout the match, and with a 5-1 series at the end of the first half, they turned an 8-9 deficit into a 13-10 advantage and went into halftime with 17-13. Still, Hungary opened the second half better and leveled the score at 18-18, but did not take the lead. In the last 10 minutes, Croatia led 25-24, and goalkeeper Sego stood out with three stellar saves, one of which was off a seven-meter shot. Croatia then managed to lead 28-25.

Manuel Strlek and Ivan Martinovic scored six goals each for Croatia, Domagoj Duvnjak added five goals, while the most efficient for Hungary was Richard Bodo with six goals.

After the great victory against Hungary, coach Lino Cervar commented on the match.

“After 10 months, the players showed a connection to the national team jersey. They came from all over Europe to play, risking getting sick, so hats off to our national team, the players who came here. I am also satisfied with the victory; of course, it is a victorious path that we continue from Stockholm. The players prepared differently since there were breaks. Therefore, such a situation was more for us to endure in such difficult conditions and without spectators, which I am upset about. What should be pointed out today is that they showed a desire to win."

With this victory, Croatia took the lead in the EHF Cup with two points from one match. Hungary, which played two matches, has the same number of points, while Slovakia, who did not play a single match, and Spain, who played one, have no points.

Croatia should play the next game in the EHF Cup on January 6 against Spain away, and only three days later, they should host the same opponent at home.

Source: Gol.hr

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Crazy Year for Cowboys Ahead: What Awaits Croatia Handball Team after Euros?

January 28, 2020 - The European Handball Championship may be over, but because it is an Olympic year, we won’t have to wait long to see the Croatia handball team in action again.

Namely, two tournaments of paramount importance have already been secured for the Croatia handball team over the next 365 days, and if all goes well, there will be a third.

Gol.hr reports that the Cowboys will now return to their clubs after a few days of rest, then reunite in April ahead of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, which will take place from April 17 to 19 in Paris. The qualifiers will be attended by 12 teams divided into three groups of four, and the first two teams from each group will be issued a visa for the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Croatia will play in perhaps the toughest group, along with France, Portugal, and Tunisia. 

Despite its failure at the Euros, France is still a handball force, Portugal was one of the most pleasant surprises at the recent European Championship, while Tunisia is the African finalist.

If all goes to plan, and Croatia finishes either first or second in their group, then in the middle of the summer, we will follow the Cowboys on their way to a new Olympic medal.

The Tokyo Olympics take place from July 24 to August 9, and the handball tournament will be in the same format: a total of 12 teams will be split into two groups of six each, with the first four from each group winning a spot in the quarterfinal.

Handball at the Tokyo Olympics begins on July 25, and all matches will be played every two days. The quarterfinals are in the program from Tuesday, August 4, the semifinal games on Thursday, August 6, and the bronze-medal match and final on Saturday, August 8.

When the Olympic Games come to an end, the players will return to their clubs to begin a new season  -  though it won't be long before another major challenge. The World Handball Championship will be held in Egypt from January 14 to January 31, 2021.

Since Croatia won second place in the 2020 European Championship, they will not have play qualifications for the World Championship next year.

Otherwise, the 2021 World Championship in Egypt will be the first in an expanded edition and will feature as many as 32 national teams. With the expansion, the International Handball Federation (IHF) wants to popularize handball in a number of countries, and as part of this initiative, teams such as Cape Verde, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uruguay will participate. 

It will be a busy year for the Croatia handball team; be sure to follow TCN for the latest.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Monday, 27 January 2020

VIDEO: Thousands Welcome Croatia Handball Team at Ban Jelacic Square in Zagreb

January 27, 2020 - Thousands of handball fans and Croatian citizens gathered at Ban Jelacic Square in Zagreb on Monday to welcome the Croatia handball team after taking the silver medal at the 2020 European Championship.

After a surprise welcome at Zagreb Airport, where 500 fans gathered to greet the team at 1 am, the party continued to the capital’s central square on Monday, where a reception was held for the Croatia handball team to congratulate them on a job well done at the 2020 European Championship.

Just after 12:30 pm, the team was announced on stage, followed by the coach and crucial members of the staff and federation.

Coach Lino Cervar was the first to address the crowd. 

"Dear citizens of Zagreb, I am proud to have led our team with passion and immense love. I am grateful to all the generations and this team that has shown incredible unity. I look forward to seeing many children and many young people here. That's why I say, parents guide your children and help them when it is difficult for them. And I also ask the children for their endless gratitude to their parents so that you can say thank you to them. No one will take away our family, as the family is the cradle of life. And these guys showed how to fight when it's the hardest.

I wanted to say something else.

We have fewer and fewer children in our country. That is why we need communion, every day. To go into the future, universal values must be respected, namely truth, righteousness and love."

Igor Karacic, a member of the All-star team at the Euro, was the next to take the microphone.

“This is beautiful. I think that in these 20 days we delighted our people, and it was wonderful to be a Croat in those moments. It’s a shame that we just missed it, but when we see these people, we are happy and we can move forward. The worse team didn’t lose, but that’s sport. We were all together, as one, and the team breathed like a family,” said Karacic.

"I'm not a talker like Lino, but I’m sorry that we made you guys so nervous. Thank you on behalf of the whole team. We hope this is not the last reception,” the MVP of the European Championship and Croatia captain Domagoj Duvnjak concluded.

You can watch the reception in its entirety below.

Source: HRT

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Croatia Handball Looks Ahead to Euro 2020, Červar Thrilled with Young Players

The Croatia handball team ended their Euro 2020 qualifiers on Sunday against Belgium in Poreč, though the game meant little as Croatia already secured first place in their group. Thus, coach Lino Červar was able to give the young players in his squad a chance, reports Gol.hr on June 16, 2019. 

“The young players who play less have shown strong will, vigor and determination. Of course, I am happy, and I have to congratulate them, they have done their best so that we have endured this difficult cycle,” said the Croatia handball team coach Lino Červar after defeating Belgium (28:19) in the final qualifying round for the 2020 European Championship. Recall, the 2020 Euros will be held in Austria, Sweden, and Norway in January next year.

Croatia also secured the first place in the group and a place in the European Championship in the second to last round against Switzerland. 

Thanks to that result, Červar allowed the younger players to show what they are worth against Belgium. Fortunately, their power wasn’t questioned at any moment - Croatia was already up six goals at half-time and ended the game +9. 

The most effective players for Croatia were David Mandić and Luka Mrakovčić who scored five goals, Josip Bozic-Pavletić who scored four, and Ivan Sršen and Tin Kontrec who scored three goals, while Filip Ivić had 11 saves.

“For the end of the season, we all got a good chance. We played well in difficult conditions. We have given our best and deserved the victory for Croatia,” said Mandić. 

Mrakovčić added: “I think we used the opportunity well. We were well prepared for this encounter, we had a tight defense and worked well in the attack and that was our recipe. I think that we showed a real game and that we did what we came to Poreč to do, and that was a victory.” 

"We have given our maximum and we did not underestimate Belgium. For the national team, you always push and give one hundred percent. I congratulate everyone, thank you to the wonderful audience that cheered for us from the first to the last minute," said Ivić.

Thus, for the second time, Croatia has completed a qualifying round. without a defeat. This has so far only been achieved by Slavko Goluža who finished the qualifying round for the 2012 Euros with all six wins.

Lino Červar recorded a draw against Serbia.

Croatia will play in its 14th European Championship next year. The ‘Cowboys' are the only national team, along with France and Spain, that has not missed any European Championship.

So far, Croatia has won five medalsat the European Championships - two silver (2010, 2008) and three bronze (2016, 2012, 1994).

The European Championship draw will be held on June 28 in Vienna, and the Croatian national team will be one of the top seeds in the draw.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

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