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13.10.2014, 10:23
EHF EURO co-hosts Croatia win test tournament in Umag
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REVIEW: Four Women’s EHF EURO 2014 participants met on the Croatian coast over the weekend, their tight friendly matches proving that the EHF EURO in December is likely to be an exciting one
 

EHF EURO co-hosts Croatia win test tournament in Umag

Even the men’s national team coaches of Croatia, Slavko Goluza, and Slovenia, Boris Denic, were present, checking the form of four Women’s EHF EURO participants two months prior to the season highlight in Croatia and Hungary.

And what they witnessed in Umag  at the Croatia Cup were some very tight matches and the Croatian women’s national team eventually lifting the huge trophy for the winners.

How close things were at the Croatia Cup was proven by the fact that in case of a defeat against Serbia in their last match, Croatia would have finished last – but the joy was all theirs when they had taken a 31:26 victory against their arch rivals in the end.

Germany let the winners’ trophy slip from hands following a very weak second half in their final encounter against Poland which they lost 24:33 after having led 14:12 at the break.

They hence only finished third, only ahead of Serbia, who gained just one point from their opening 25:25 draw against Germany.

"This tournament was ideal to test a lot of options against strong opponents," said Polish coach Kim Rasmussen, who was “absolute proud of his team and the development during the tournament.”

Poland had produced a weak performance against the Croatia (24:33), then improved against Serbia (27:25), before the win against Germany was the icing of the cake.

"Our team withstood the great mental pressure after we did not play a single match in the last four months," Rasmussen said

But contrary to his Croatian, German and Serbian counterparts on the bench, Rasmussen did not see the results having any impact on the Women’s EHF EURO 2014.

"In the next two months a lot of things can happen," he said.

For Poland, who will face Hungary, Russia and Spain in the preliminary round at the EHF EURO, goalkeepers Anna Wysosinska and Malgorzata Gapska and Buducnost player Kinga Byzdra were the main keys for the two wins.

German blackout, Serbian hopes

Serbia were disappointed after finishing the Croatia Cup without a victory.

"We had expected much more. However, the results were not the biggest priority, as we wanted to test as many players as possible," said Serbian left back Sanja Damnjanovic.

Her team missed the saves of injured goalkeeper Katarina Tomasevic: “With her, our hopes will rise at the EURO. After two semi-finals at the 2012 EURO and the 2013 World Championship we set high goals again, hoping for getting closer to the Olympic Games in Rio,” said Damnjanovic  

At the EHF EURO defending champions Montenegro, France and Slovakia are the Serbian opponents in Group D in Osijek.

In particular in the match against Germany, in which she scored nine times from nine attempts, line player Dragana Cvijic was impressive, but still Serbia focus their game very much on their mastermind Andrea Lekic.

Germany were on course to win the Croatia Cup before the final match day and even until the break against Poland.

What followed was “a collective blackout”, as playmaker Kerstin Wohlbold bluntly put it.

Germany’s performances in Umag went up and down. After missing dozens of chances against Serbia, they showed their best match against Croatia (26:20), whom they will face again at the EHF EURO, before their form plummeted again against Poland.

"It is better to lack the consistency and stability now and not during the EURO," head coach Heine Jensen said.

In his team only goalkeepers Katja Schülke and Clara Woltering played on a constantly high level.

Also the Croatian goalkeeper Marta Zderic impressed during the matches of her team.

"We could gain confidence for the EURO, but still we are in the phase of testing," said Croatian coach Vladimir Canjuga.

His goal for the home event is the ever semi-final at a major event for the Croatian women’s national team.

"The final weekend in Budapest is our dream objective, but it will be hard to go there. After strong opponents like Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands in the preliminaries we will have to face teams like Montenegro, Serbia and France in the main round - but we hope for the great support of our fans in Varazdin and Zagreb."

Croatia Cup in Umag, result summary:

Germany - Serbia 25:25, Croatia -Poland 33:24

Poland - Serbia 27:25, Croatia - Germany 20:26

Poland - Germany 33:24, Croatia - Serbia 31:26


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
 
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