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30.08.2012, 12:30
Tatari hoping for Croatian success at EHF EURO 2012
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Captain upbeat about chances for a podium finish in Serbia
 

Tatari hoping for Croatian boom in EHF EURO 2012

After Croatia qualified for the 2012 Olympics by the skin of their teeth, they were seen as little more than also-rans who arrived in London just to make up the numbers.

However, a string of fine performances, including a shock win over the much-fancied Russians, propelled Croatia into the quarter-finals where they suffered a narrow defeat to eventual bronze medal winners Spain.

Croatia’s captain Miranda Tatari, who was at the heart of the team’s success, has voiced her opinion about the their chances of doing well at EHF EURO 2012 in December in Serbia, where her outfit will arrive as dark horses to win one of the honours.

“We did not make a bang in London but we hope that we can do it in Serbia,” Tatari told Croatia’s leading Sportnet website (www.sportnet.hr) in an interview.

“We believe that our time is coming because we played some great handball at the Olympics. The experience and the confidence boost our performances have produced suggest that we are ready to make a huge step forward and challenge for a podium finish in Serbia,” she said.

“We beat Russia for the first time and we were also victorious against Montenegro, who went on to win the Olympic silver medal. It shows we are capable of mixing it with the world’s best, having also beaten Denmark twice prior to the Games.”

Croatia were drawn in EURO 2012 Preliminary Round Group C, set in Serbia’s northern city of Novi Sad, alongside Germany, Hungary and Spain. They should have little trouble in finishing in the top three and advancing to the Main Round, where 12 teams divided into two groups of six will battle it out for semi-final berths.

Tatari believes the fiercely competitive tournament is Croatia’s best chance to cover themselves in glory for some time to come, with few upcoming prospects on the horizon in the Balkan country.

“I just don’t see a phenomenal generation stepping up and filling our shoes. There were more talents back in the day when I came through the ranks and the girls I am looking at now don’t seem ready for tough challenges and epic games on the big stage. Two or three of them could perhaps become finished products but it will take a while for a top-quality generation to emerge,” she pointed out.

“We could still make an impact in the 2016 Olympics in Rio but that’s four years from now and what we are really looking forward to is a chance to finally put ourselves on the map of medal winners at EHF EURO 2012.”

Tatari also reflected on tough Group Matches for her team Podravka Vegeta in the Women’s EHF Champions League. The Croatian champions have been pitted against last season’s finalists Gyori Audi ETO, Slovenian rivals Krim Mercator and either Zajecar of Serbia or Romania’s Cluj, depending on which team comes through their knife-edged qualifier.

The 27-year old middle back acknowledged that finishing in the top two and progressing to the second stage of the competition may be a tall order for Podravka, in view of the strength of their rivals.

“I was very depressed when I learned the composition of our group because we needed a bit of luck in the draw now that the club’s board has made an effort to boost our finances and make us competitive in Europe. It didn’t happen and the reality is that we are more likely to finish third and carry on in the EHF Cup than get ahead of either Gyori ETO or Krim Mercator. Not that either of the two teams vying for the final berth, Cluj and Zajecar, will be pushovers,” she underscored.


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic
 
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