Monday, 13 December 2021

Croatia Ends 2021 World Women's Handball Championship in Spain

December 13, 2021 - The Croatia women's handball team lost to Austria 23:27 in their 3rd and final match of the main group 4, and with two victories and four defeats, ended its run at the 25th World Women's Handball Championship in Spain.

Given that Covid-19 knocked out three key handball players, along with some injuries, Croatia couldn't do more.

"I don't know how many fouls, 7-meter throws, and technical errors; I don't know which team can be beaten with so many errors. I am disappointed, I am sad, the only positive thing in all this is that we got some new names that we will be able to use in the future. An experience for all of us, and the result I would sincerely like to forget as soon as possible. I stand behind all of us, we can’t always be on top, but this is not where we belong. I hope that Covid will disappear quickly and that we will be able to return to normal life," said Captain Katarina Ježić.

"We seemed to be too tired. Austria was also tired, but they came in with more desire and determination. We fought and wanted to, but they were more determined in their intentions and key moments. Unfortunately, we started badly and ended badly," added Ivana Kapitanović.

Ćamila Mičijević and Dora Krsnik are still in isolation in Castellon, and the results of their PCR tests are pending, which determine their return to Croatia. However, both national team players are feeling well.

"This is all part of sports: illness, this situation, and injuries are part of sports. We need to expand the roster. Unfortunately, we do not have too much quality, but playing in major competitions is important. The essence of everything is continuity, and the result will come out of it," said coach Nenad Sostaric.

"I don't know what to tell you, but I feel miserable. In the match preparation, we talked about its importance, and we said that we knew that Austria would squeeze the middle and that our wings must decide. Whether we want to admit it or not, we must be aware that our wings are very average compared to the European level and have big problems here. There was a total blackout in one part of the first half. Everything bad came together in that story. Unfortunately, we all need to be aware of this together. In Denmark, what we did is a miracle; miracles do not happen every day. To get close to the top, all players must be in one hundred percent form, and we must act as a team one hundred percent. Unfortunately, we were not here in any of those segments," added Sostaric.

On Monday, Croatia will return to Zagreb on a flight from Valencia via Frankfurt. Their planned arrival at Zagreb Airport is 7:20 pm.

Source: HRT

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Monday, 6 December 2021

2021 World Championship: Japan Tops Croatia Women's Handball 28:26 in Last Group G Game

December 6, 2021 - The Croatia women's handball team lost to Japan in the last game of Group G at the World Championship in Spain. Japan topped Croatia 28:26.

Croatia entered this match without three important players, Ćamila Mičijević, Ivana Dežić, and Dora Krsnik, who are out of the squad after testing positive for Covid-19. Coach Nenad Šoštarić had 10 players and three goalkeepers at his disposal for the match against Japan.

Croatia fought a great battle against a persistent, tough, and quick Japan, led about 50 minutes of the match, but were left without strength in the end. Croatia did not score a goal in the last seven minutes, and after leading 23:20 in the 46th minute, they fell behind 24:26. Mistakes plagued the end of the match and defeat was inevitable.

Larissa Kalaus scored six goals for Croatia and Ana Turk five, while Nakayama led Japan with nine goals.

Croatia played against Japan only once before at the 2005 World Championship in Russia.

The match against Japan was important because the winner transfers two points to the second round. Three national teams advance from each group. After that, four new groups of six teams will be formed, and the national teams will transfer the points won against other teams from the group to the second round.

Thus, Japan will transfer two points to the second round of the competition, while Croatia will not transfer any, because they only won against Paraguay, which ended its journey in the championship.

In the second match of the group, Brazil defeated Paraguay 33-19. Thus, in the second round, Brazil transferred four points, Japan two, and Croatia no points.

In the second round in Alicante, Croatia will play Spain (4), Argentina (2), and Austria (0).


CROATIA: Bešen (0+1), Kapitanović, Pijević (6); P. Posavec 3, S. Posavec 3, Kalaus 6(3), Ježić 4, Burić, Šimara, Debelić 4, Turk 5, Mamić, Blažević 1. Coach: Nenad Šoštarić.

JAPAN: Kametani (8+1), Baba; Nagata 1, Fujita, Gray, Ohyama 1(1), Aizawa 3, Matsumoto, Iwabuchi, Kondo 2, Nakayama 9(4), Yamamoto, Kitihara 4, Sahara 2, Hattori 6(1), Yoshidome. Coach: Shigeo Kusomoto.

7-meter throws: Croatia 4(3), Japan 9(6).

Exclusions: Hrvatska 8 minutes, Japan 12 minutes

Player of the match: Kaho Nakayama.

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Sunday, 28 November 2021

World Women's Handball Championship Final Prep: 'Queens of Shock' Top Slovenia 29-21

November 28, 2021 - The 'Queens of Shock' are back in action this winter, completing their final preparations for the World Women's Handball Championship in Spain this December by winning 29-21 in a friendly match against Slovenia on Saturday in Poreč. 

The Croatia women's handball team defeated Slovenia with a convincing 29-21 (15-10) in the last preparatory match on Saturday at Žatika hall in Poreč, before the team heads to the IH World Women's Handball Championship in Spain. 

Nenad Šoštarić's team played well and held their own until the end of the game when they had less time to relax. Overall, they were solid in defense. This resulted in a constant increase in their advantage throughout the match.

It was already 6-2 in the 11th minute after Croatia had a 4-0 series, and at halftime, Slovenia was five goals behind (15-10).

Croatia was up +7 (17-10) in the 34th minute, and Slovenia managed to stay five goals behind (20-15) until the 44th minute. The "queens of shock" scored seven in the next eight minutes and received only two goals. In the 52nd minute, they were up +10 (27-17).

In the end, Slovenia managed to mitigate the defeat slightly (29-21).

Paula Posavec, Ćamila Mičijević, and Ana Turk scored four goals each for the Croatia national team, and Katarina Ježić, Lara Burić, and Ivana Dežić shook the net three times each.

Former Podravka player Tjaša Stanko led Slovenia, who was the most efficient in the game with eight goals.

"Today, they played one nice game. Most of the shortcomings, which we noticed in the first game and through joint training, we corrected. Each player gave a damn, and it was nice to watch," said coach Nenad Šoštarić, who is waiting on the leaders of the Croatian Handball Federation to decide on the number of players who will travel to Spain so he can define his list.

They may lead all 18 players who took part in the final preparations, but they may have to leave two handball players in Croatia if the HRS leadership decides that an expedition of 16 of them will go to Spain.

Croatia will open its appearance at the World Champs against Brazil, scheduled for Thursday, December 2, in Ciutat de Castell, starting at 6 pm. Two days later, Croatia will play against Paraguay (18:00) and on December 6 against Japan (20:30).

The best three national teams will continue the competition in the second phase, in which they will be merged with the group in which Spain, Austria, Argentina, and China will play. The two best national teams from the second phase will qualify for the quarterfinals.

Source: HRT

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Tuesday, 23 November 2021

2022 European Men's Handball Championship: Croatia's Group Stage Schedule in Szeged

November 23, 2021 - The 2022 European Men's Handball Championship is right around the corner. Croatia will play their group stage games next January in Szeged.

The European Handball Championship is scheduled for January 13-30, 2022, in Hungary and Slovakia. Croatia is in Group C, where they will play against France, Serbia, and Ukraine, reports

The two best national teams from each of the six groups of the first round will travel to the second round and compete in two new groups with six teams. Finally, the best two national teams from both groups will reach the semifinals of the European Handball Championship. 

Croatia plays in Szeged, on the border with Serbia

The Croatia national team will play their three introductory matches in Szeged, hopefully not the only matches at the Euro. At the start of Group C, a handball classic between Croatia and France awaits us on January 13 at 8:30 pm.

Two days later, on January 15, another spectacle - Croatia plays a neighborhood derby against Serbia in a city on the border with Serbia. After that, Croatia will play its last match in Group C on January 17 against Ukraine.

The two best in the second round group go to the semifinals

The best two from Croatia's group will play in a new group in the second round with the two best teams from groups A and B. This group will play their matches in Budapest from January 20, 2022. 

The semifinals are scheduled for January 28, and the final and match for 3rd place on January 30.

2022 Euros Handball schedule:
Group A
January 13
18.00 Slovenia - North Macedonia
20:30 Denmark - Montenegro

January 15
18:00 North Macedonia - Montenegro
20:30 Slovenia - Denmark

January 17
18:00 Montenegro - Slovenia
20:30 North Macedonia - Denmark

Group B
January 13
20:30 Hungary - Netherlands

January 14
20:30 Portugal - Iceland

January 16
18:00 Portugal - Hungary
20:30 Iceland - Netherlands

January 18
18:00 Iceland - Hungary
20:30 Netherlands - Portugal

Group C
January 13
18:00 Serbia - Ukraine
20:30 Croatia - France

January 15
18:00 France - Ukraine
20:30 Croatia - Serbia

January 17
18:00 Ukraine - Croatia
20:30 France - Serbia

Group D
January 14
18:00 Germany - Belarus
20:30 Austria - Poland

January 16
18:00 Germany - Austria
20:30 Belarus - Poland

January 18
18:00 Poland - Germany
20:30 Belarus - Austria

Group E
January 13
18:00 Spain - Czech Republic
20:30 Sweden - BiH

January 15
18:00 Czech Republic - BiH
20:30 Spain - Sweden

January 17
18:00 BiH - Spain
20:30 Czech Republic - Sweden

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Tuesday, 9 November 2021

Captain Domagoj Duvnjak Becomes Top Scorer in Croatia Handball History

November 9, 2021 - Captain Domagoj Duvnjak has surpassed Mirza Džomba to become the top scorer in Croatia handball history! 

Two days ago, Croatia handball player Domagoj Duvnjak scored five goals in Croatia's 34:31 victory against Slovenia in a friendly match played in Novigrad. Ivan Martinović led the Croatia national team with seven goals, Halil Jaganjac with six goals, and captain Duvnjak with five.

However, Duvnjak's goals were the only ones to write Croatia handball history, reports 24 Sata.

By scoring five goals against Slovenia, Duvnjak became the top scorer in Croatia handball history. He reached a total of 720 goals and replaced Mirza Džomba, the legendary winger who held the record for years - since 2008!

The legendary Mirza Džomba said goodbye to the national team in 2008, scoring 719 goals in 185 games. While Džomba held the record for more than 13 years, it was inevitable that Domagoj Duvnjak would surpass it eventually. And now he has, after 223 games in the Croatia jersey.

Duvnjak made his debut for the Croatia national team in 2006 at 18 years old, played his first big tournament the following year, and in those 14 years, did not miss a single big competition. 

He won eight medals with Croatia, still hoping for the gold, which is the only medal he does not have, and with which he would complete his brilliant national team story.

"My first appearance for the national team in a big competition? Of course, I remember. It was the World Cup in Germany in 2007. I entered the game against Spain and scored one goal. I played in the previous European qualifiers, but I will remember my first appearance at the World Cup for the rest of my life."

While his age is against him, only the best can boast 12 years in the Bundesliga. Duvnjak also recently signed a new contract with Kiel until 2024, which will make it an impressive 15 in the German league. Duvnjak endeavors to play until 2025, when Croatia will host the World Cup with Denmark and Norway. Then, Duvnjak can say goodbye to his celebrated career, hopefully with a gold medal. 

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

Sunday, 22 August 2021

U19 Croatia Handball Team Takes 2nd Place at European Championship!

August 22, 2021 - The U19 Croatia handball team took 2nd place at the European Championship in Varaždin on Sunday, losing 20:34 to Germany in the final. 

The U19 Croatia men's handball team played the European Championship final against Germany at 5 pm on Sunday in Varaždin.

Krešo Ivanković's team had the chance to become the third Croatian generation to win European gold in the cadet age but unfortunately fell short against Germany to take 2nd place. Germany proved to be too strong for the young Croatia team this time around. While the two sides were even for most of the first half, Germany's advantage grew to +5 before halftime and increased to +13 advantage in the final few minutes of the match. The final score was 20:34. 

Croatia reached the final with a victory in the semifinal against Slovenia 26:22, and Germany defeated Spain 31:30 in a tense match, entering the final as a slight favorite. These two national teams already met in the second round when Germany was better 26:23. That match, however, was not crucial for Croatia because they had already secured a spot in the semifinals. This was also the only defeat that Croatia suffered in this tournament so far. 

The U19 Croatia team has twice been the European handball champion. The first time was in 2006 in Estonia under the coaching staff of Irfan Smajlagić. Domagoj Duvnjak was then named the best player of the championship, and Ivan Pešić was the best goalkeeper. Four years later, this success was repeated, when Croatia was led by Silvio Ivandija.  

Spain won the bronze medal, defeating Slovenia 37-28 (17-13) in the match for 3rd place.

Arnau Fernandez led Spain with 11 goals, with Jan Gurri and Carlos Alvarez scoring six each. Vid Miklavec was the best for Slovenia with seven goals, and Andraž Makuc scored six.

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Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Croatia Handball Player List for June Meetings against Spain and Egypt Announced

May 25, 2021 - The Croatia handball player list for two June meetings against Spain in the EHF EURO Cup and a friendly against Egypt have been announced. 

The Croatian men's team coach Hrvoje Horvat has published the list of players he is counting on for the remaining EHF EURO Cup match against Spain and the friendly match against Egypt. There are 18 players on the list, along with seven more on the reserve list, if one of the invitees gets injured.

The national team will gather in Poreč on June 21 at 11:00 and will stay there until June 26 when it leaves for Spain. As it is known, the weekend before, Poreč will host the finals of the Men's Cup, so some of the players will already be there.

The remaining EHF EURO Cup 3rd round match between Spain and Croatia was originally planned before the World Cup, on January 9, 2021, but was canceled due to a snowstorm in Madrid.

The new date is June 27. A day later, the national team will play a friendly match against Egypt, which is preparing for the Olympic Games in Spain. The Spanish Handball Federation has yet to confirm where the match will be played. 

Hrvoje Horvat, men's senior national team coach: 
"The list includes most of the players who recently played against Slovakia and Hungary, but also some new names that we also want to check out. We have secured second place in the EHF EURO Cup, so the match against the European champions does not have any special competitive nature, but we want to see how these young players can cope with the handball giants. On the other hand, Egypt is waiting for us, which was fourth at the 2021 World Cup. It is a great opportunity to see players against a physically very powerful team that plays handball a little differently. It is important to note that both matches are played outside the so-called 'national team week,' i.e., the official calendar of the EHF, so we had to rely on players from domestic clubs or leagues that have finished their competitions."

































Source: HRS

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Friday, 7 May 2021

Croatia Handball against Serbia, France, and Ukraine at Men's EHF EURO 2022

May 7, 2021 - A tough draw - Croatia handball against Serbia, France, and Ukraine at the Men's EHF EURO 2022, to be played from January 13 to 30 next year. 

The Croatia handball team will play the first part of the 2022 European Championship in Group C, hosted by Szeged, against the national teams of Serbia, France, and Ukraine, the draw revealed in Budapest on Thursday.

The hosts of the handball Euro, which is scheduled for January 13-30 next year, are Hungary and Slovakia. Twenty-four national teams will compete for medals, divided into six groups, played in Szeged, Debrecen, Budapest, Bratislava, and Košice.

The Pick Arena in Szeged, where Croatia will play their first-round matches, has a capacity of 8,143 spectators, and the Budapest Arena in the Hungarian capital, where second-round matches and the final part of the tournament will be played, can accommodate 20,000 spectators.

The Croatia national team will play the first game in the group on January 13 against France. Two days later, Croatia will meet Serbia. The last game of the first round will be played on January 17 against Ukraine.

The two best national teams from each of the six groups in the first round will advance to the second round, in which the teams from A, B, and C groups will merge into one group, and the other from D, E, and F. The second-round matches will be played in Budapest and Bratislava.

The first two national teams from each group will advance to the semifinals, while the third-placed teams will play a match for fifth place.

The semifinals are scheduled for January 28, and the final and third-place match on January 30.

"We have an exciting group ahead of us. As always, what we repeat is that we hope to be healthy and ready. We have seen many times that there is no weak opponent at the European Championship, and every game will be interesting and difficult. Of course, we have to think only of ourselves, we have to prepare well, and we must not be relaxed at any point. As always, we will go from game to game and do our best," said captain Domagoj Duvnjak.

“Of course, I watched the draw. For me, it’s an excellent group. There is no need to waste words on France because we all know how strong they are. Serbia has great players on paper, and with the new coach, we saw in the qualifications that they have become a serious team. Ukraine only seems the easiest at first glance, but let's not forget that Motor, from which most players come, is practically a permanent participant in the Champions League. I can't wait for the championship to start, and I hope with fans!" added Marin Šipić. 

2022 European Championship groups:
Group A (Debrecen): Slovenia, Denmark, Sj. Macedonia, Montenegro
Group B (Budapest): Portugal, Hungary, Iceland, Netherlands
Group C (Szeged): CROATIA, Serbia, France, Ukraine
Group D (Bratislava): Germany, Austria, Belarus, Poland
Group E (Bratislava): Spain, Sweden, Czech Republic, Bosnia, and Herzegovina
Group F (Košice): Norway, Russia, Slovakia, Lithuania

Source: HRS

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Friday, 9 April 2021

Ivano Balić Officially Named Men's Croatia Handball Assistant Coach!

April 9, 2021 - Legendary former Croatia handball player Ivano Balić is Hrvoje Horvat's new assistant coach of the men's national team!

The decision on his inclusion in the Croatia national handball team staff was made on Thursday during the regular session of the Croatian Handball Federation Management Board.

Balić was added to the staff at the suggestion of the current coach, and at the same time, Nino Pavelić, who worked at RK Nexe for years, was appointed goalkeeper coach.

The session confirmed that the competition in the Premier League Package 24, 1st HRL for women, two first men's leagues, and three second women's leagues was put on hold until mid-May, and almost four months after winning the European bronze, the handball players achievement was honored with 150,000 euro! 

Tomislav Grahovac, President of the Croatian Handball Federation:
"We made a decision to award our girls for winning the bronze medal at the European Championships. It is an amount of 150 thousand euro, which is the gross amount. Another important decision is that we have completed the staffs for all age groups of men's handball. What is certainly important to us in the future is that Ivano Balić has been appointed as an assistant to the coach Hrvoje Horvat. The third decision that was made is to put on hold the leagues that are currently being played: Package 24 Premier League, 1st HRL - Women, two men's first leagues and three women's second leagues, until all players, staff members, referees' organizations, and club members, i.e., those who are participants in constant physical contact with players, are vaccinated. The plan is to stop the competition until May 19, and all matches will be played by the end of June."

Source: HRS

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Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Ivano Balić Likely Returning to Croatia Handball Bench

March 23, 2021 - Celebrated former Croatia national handball team player Ivano Balić should soon join the national team staff to assist coach Hrvoje Horvat in the coming period.

24 Sata reports that Balić should act as Horvat's first assistant, and Igor Vori, who has played a double role so far, should remain only the national team's sports director in the future.

While the news about Ivano Balić's engagement is still unofficial, sources close to the Croatian Handball Federation have revealed that Balić agreed to accept the offered position of an assistant coach. The formality of the appointment and official announcement will be at the HRS Board meeting and then at the Assembly, in the second week of April, immediately after the Easter holidays.

The first next action of the Croatia national handball team is the EHF EURO Cup, a competition in which the teams that directly qualified for the European Championship in 2022 will compete: Spain and Croatia as finalists of the last European Championship and Slovakia and Hungary, which as hosts do not have to play qualifiers. The EHF has organized a special competition for these four national teams, which continues on April 26.

As it is usual to send invitations to players two weeks in advance, it is expected that the association will complete the procedure of appointing Ivano Balić as soon as possible. Given the current epidemiological situation, it is not yet known where all the matches will be played, but Croatia should play in Varaždin. The possibility remains to play two matches with the same opponent on the same court if it is easier to organize it due to other countries' epidemiological situation.

At the end of January, Lino Červar proposed Ivano Balić as a candidate for the new coach after Červar resigned from the post but retained the coordinator position for men's handball. The unnatural and illogical position in which the former coach proposes his successor should also be discussed in the Board and the Assembly.

After the debacle at the World Champs in Egypt, Lino Červar was succeeded by Hrvoje Horvat, who had the advantage over the other two candidates: Slavko Goluža and Ivano Balić. At that time, the board of directors did not even consider Balić as a candidate, with the explanation that he did not have the necessary license.

"After an exhaustive discussion and detailed analysis of each of the offered candidates, it was determined that Ivano Balić, unfortunately, does not have the required credentials to perform the function of the coach. Of the two remaining candidates, the Board of Directors member, who is busy with work obligations, decided to maintain continuity in the work of the national team and decided to appoint Hrvoje Horvat as the coach of the Croatia men's senior national team," HRS announced at the time.

In the meantime, the handball team was left without the Olympic Games at the qualifying tournament in Montpellier, France. Still, the HRS leadership stood behind the Croatia coach and entrusted him with leading the team in the coming period. Ivano Balić's engagement should give him additional strength and authority in his attempt to return Croatia to the top of European and world handball.

Until now, Ivano Balić has worked as a coach of the junior national team. He has a coaching license but not a "master coach," which is necessary for the coaches who lead the national teams in the biggest competitions. However, Balić regularly attends lectures and should get a license this year so that he could sit on the bench as the national team coach in the future.

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