Sunday, 17 April 2022

Croatia Qualifies for 2023 World Handball Championships!

April 17, 2022 - Although Croatia practically qualified for the 2023 World Handball Championships after beating Finland earlier in the week, they confirmed their spot in Sweden and Poland next year with another victory in the return match in Varaždin on Saturday night. 

Croatia defeated Finland 21:34 in the first match of the 2nd round of qualifications for the 2023 World Championships and played the return match in Varaždin on Saturday, winning 36:22. The most efficient player was Marino Marić with 7 goals. Filip Glavaš added 6, Marin Jelinić 4, Halil Jaganjac and Tin Lučin 3 each, and Domagoj Duvnjak, Igor Karačić, Veron Načinović, Luka Cindrić, Davor Ćavar and Luka Lovre Klarica 2 each. Leon Šušnja scored one goal. Matej Mandić recorded 8 saves and Marin Šego recorded 5 in goal. 

With another convincing victory, Croatia sends a message to the handball world that it is back on track and ready for new challenges. Coach Hrvoje Horvat had another opportunity to test out some of the young forces that have had to jump in after a series of injuries. Thus, Luka Lovre Klarica, Mateo Maraš, Veron Načinović, Dominik Kuzmanović, or Matej Mandić will get playing time with Croatia again.

Croatia has never missed the World Championships. Croatia's first appearance was 22 years ago in Iceland in 1995, when they won the silver medal. Croatia went on to win four medals after that - one gold (Portugal 2003), two silver (Tunisia 2005, Croatia 2009), and one bronze (Spain 2013). The 2023 World Championships in Sweden and Poland will be their 15th appearance, and as Croatia, Denmark, and Norway will host the 2025 World Championships, Croatia has already qualified for their 16th tournament. 

Interestingly, Croatia has also never lost at the Varaždin Arena. They played in the 2012 Olympic qualifiers there for the first time and recorded three victories: Japan 36:22, Chile 35:15, Iceland 31:28. The last performance was in the qualifications for the European Championship 2016 against Norway when Željko Babić was on the bench. Croatia celebrated 31:25. 

The World Championships are scheduled for January 11 to 29, 2023, and will feature 32 national teams. Hosts Poland and Sweden, world champions Denmark and France, Spain, Norway, Belgium, Bahrain, Qatar. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, and South Korea have already qualified. 

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

Thursday, 14 April 2022

Croatia Beats Finland in Game 1 of 2023 World Handball Championship Qualifiers

April 14, 2022 - The Croatia men's handball team defeated Finland 21:34 in the first leg of the 2nd round of the 2023 World Handball Championship qualifiers.

Croatia has thus made a big step toward securing a spot in that competition and plays the return match in Varaždin on Saturday, April 16 at 6 pm.

FINLAND: P. Roslander 0/1, M. Makela 16/46, L. Lindberg 2/2, M. Henriksson 2/4, F. Forss 0/2, V. Gronmark 1/1, B. Helander 1/3 , R. Sundberg - / -, E. Hammarberg 0/1, R. Syrjala 1/2, R. Granlund 5/9, S. Vainionpaa 2/2, S. Sakkinen 1/3, G.Montonen 3/6, F. Karlsson 3/6, O. Norlund 0/1, coach: Ola Lindgren (Swe)

CROATIA: D. Kuzmanović 1/3, M. Šego 12/32, M. Marić 0/3, D. Duvnjak 1/1, I. Karačić 1/3, M. Maraš 0/2, M. Mamić 2/2 , L. Cindrić 6/8, V. Matanović 2/4, T. Lučin 2/3, H. Jaganjac 0/1, L. Šušnja - / -, D. Ćavar 4/6, F. Glavaš 8/10, L. L. Klarica 3/8, M. Jelinić 5/7, selector: Hrvoje Horvat

Of the 18 players brought to Finland, coach Hrvoje Horvat left Matej Mandic and Veron Nacinovic in the stands. It is worth reminding that Croatia was left without David Mandić, Željko Musa, Zvonimir Srna, Ivan Čupić, Luka Šebetić, Marin Šipić, and Ivan Martinović before these two qualifying matches due to injuries.

Croatia opened the match with the following line-up: Marin Šego in goal, Marin Jelinić and Filip Glavaš on the wings, Marino Marić as the pivot, and Domagoj Duvnjak, Luka Cindrić and Luka Lovre Klarica on the outside positions. There was only one change in defense-attack, Marino Marić - Leon Šušnja.

Croatia started calmly and used four of the first five attacks to take the 2:4 lead after only six minutes. 

Domagoj Duvnjak pushed forward, resulting in a series of mistakes for Finland. Thus, in the 12th minute, Croatia doubled its advantage to 4:8. After the first quarter, they could have been up by 8 or 9 points, but it was 6:10. 

Horvat started with a series of substitutions. Igor Karačić, Vlado Matanović, and Tin Lučin entered, and Marko Mamić also defended. Croatia made good use of Finland's exclusions, and at the end of the 20th minute, Croatia was up by 6 goals - 7:13. However, Croatia went without a goal for five minutes, and Finland was helpless against Marin Šego (10 saves).

At halftime, Croatia was up by seven goals (9:16), and 8 Croatia players were among the scorers.

Finland did well in the second half. They came to minus 5 with two quick goals and forced Croatia to get serious. Croatia responded with two goals by Filip Glavas, one from seven meters, and quickly calmed down the growing ambitions of the hosts.

After 13 minutes of play, Croatia went up by 10 (15:25) with the first goal by Marko Mamic. As expected, Horvat started several new changes to give all players the opportunity in the match. The young Dominik Kuzmanović was in goal. Croatia's advantage grew from attack to attack until the final 21:34. Along with the excellent Marin Šego, who had 12 saves, the top scorer for Croatia was Filip Glavaš, with eight goals from 10 attempts. Luka Cindrić scored six and was chosen as the best player for Croatia. 

Source: HRS

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

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

U21 Euro Qualifiers: Finland Gives Croatia First Defeat in Varaždin

March 29, 2022 - The young Croatia national team recorded their first defeat in the U21 Euro qualifiers on Tuesday, losing 2-3 to Finland in Varaždin. 

The U21 Croatia national football team recorded its first defeat in Group A of the Euro qualifiers. Finland celebrated 3-2 in Varaždin. 

Already after the first half, Finland shocked Croatia with three goals, with their hero being Naatan Skyttae. Finland took the lead in the 11th minute when Croatia goalkeeper Kotarski made a mistake, and Skyttae scored for 1-0.

The same player increased Finland's lead to 2-0 in the 29th minute, while he also assisted during stoppage time for Ablade to make it 3-0 for Finland at the half.

Croatia showed almost nothing in the first 45 minutes, while they played visibly better in the second half. In the 68th minute, Roko Šimić failed to score a penalty which was saved by the Finland goalkeeper Sinisalo, though not all hope was lost. Only two minutes later, Josip Šutalo scored a close-range header for 1-3.

The young Croatia side pressed until the end and found new hope in the 87th minute when Toni Fruk shot from the top of the penalty area and reduced the score to 2-3. But by the end, the result had not changed. Thus, after six victories, the Croatia U21 side recorded a draw (Austria 0-0) and a defeat (Finland 2-3) in the last week during the U21 Euro qualifiers. 

Fortunately, Igor Bišćan's team received good news from the Austria-Norway match, with Austria winning 2-1. Croatia thus kept a four-point advantage over Norway, while Austria has three points more than Norway in second place, but also a game less.

Croatia will still play against Norway (June 3) and Estonia (June 8). Only the winner of the group will qualify directly for the 2023 Euros.

European Championship Qualifiers, U21 (Group A):


1. Croatia 8 6 1 1 19-7 19
2. Austria 9 5 1 3 20-10 16
3. Norway 7 5 0 2 19-7 15
4. Finland 7 4 1 2 12-9 13
5. Azerbaijan 7 1 1 5 6-19 4
6. Estonia 8 0 0 8 0-23 0

Source: HRT

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

Sunday, 28 November 2021

2023 Basketball World Cup Qualifiers: Finland Tops Croatia 77:71 in Espoo

November 28, 2021 - Finland tops Croatia 77-71 in the 2nd round of Group C in Espoo, giving Croatia its second defeat in the 2023 Basketball World Cup qualifiers.

After losing to Slovenia 74-76 in a dramatic finish at the opening of the World Cup qualifiers in Zagreb, Croatia was unable to defeat Finland in Espoo. 

Three-pointers played in Finland's favor on Sunday, with 14 scored by the hosts and only four for Croatia. 

Croatia struggled in the first quarter, scoring just seven points in the first seven minutes. Fortunately, Finland wasn't much better, scoring only 5 points more. Coach Veljko Mršić changed 11 players in the first eight minutes! 

At the end of the first quarter, Croatia turned the result in their favor with an 8-0 series (15-12), and at the end of the first quarter, they were up +1. 

The second quarter was even, and the teams went into halftime at 34-34.

The third quarter saw Finland score a 6-0 series for 40-34, then went up +7 (50-43). 3:50 minutes before the end of the third quarter Finland was up by 10 points (53-43 ). By the end of the quarter, Croatia still managed to reduce the score to 59-55.

Six minutes before the end of the game, Croatia was just one basket behind (64-63), which they kept with five minutes to go (67-66). 

With three minutes to go, Croatia still managed to keep the score tight (68-69), and with two minutes left, Croatia led 70-69. That was their first lead in the second half.

Edon Maxhuni returned the home team to a 72-70 advantage with a three-pointer, and Filip Bundović realized one free throw for 72-71 with just over a minute left.

Sasu Salin brought Finland to +4 (75-71) with a new three-pointer 40 seconds before the end. Croatia shot two three-pointers in the next attack, but Rogić and Marčinković did not score. Salin then scored two free throws for 77-71, which was the final score. 

Finland was led to victory by Maxhuni with 15 points and five assists, Shawn Huff scored 14 points and nine rebounds, and Elias Valtonen scored 12 points and eight rebounds.

All 12 Croatia players were among the scorers. Bundović scored 16 points, and Perković and Danko Branković scored 10 points each.

Slovenia and Sweden, which both achieved victories in the first round, will meet tonight in Koper.

Qualifications continue in February when Croatia will play two games against Sweden. The first is scheduled for February 25, and the return in Sweden is three days later.

Europe will send 12 national teams to Asia for the World Cup, which will be held in Japan, the Philippines, and Indonesia in 2023.

There are eight groups of four teams in the first round of European qualifiers, and the three best from each group will advance to the second round. It is important to note that all points from the first part of the competition are transferred.

In the second round, four new groups of six national teams will be formed, and the three best teams from each group will qualify for the World Cup.

Source: HRT

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

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

World Cup Qualifiers: Finland Upset HNS Switched Stadiums?

Rujevica Stadium in Rijeka was officially confirmed as the host of the upcoming World Cup qualifier between Croatia and Finland.