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19.10.2014, 09:00
Croatia look at EHF EURO 2016 qualifiers as the first warm-up for Qatar 2015
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PREVIEW: Head coach Slavko Goluza sees his team entering a crucial phase and nominates a vastly experienced team for the first two rounds of the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification
 

Croatia look at EHF EURO 2016 qualifiers as the first warm-up for Qatar 2015

Croatia have embarked on their mission "Poland 2016“, with head coach Slavko Goluza naming 18 players for the upcoming Men's EHF EURO 2016 qualifiers at the end of the month.

Croatia will first face Netherlands on 30 October before travelling to Ankara where they will play against Turkey.

"I did my best to visit all my players, talk to them about their condition, physical preparedness and their motivation," said Goluza at a press conference.

"Our goal in these two matches is clear: We want to win both of them and in my opinion we won't have any troubles in case we manage to play like we usually do, although we fully respect Turkey and Netherlands regardless of the fact that they still haven't managed to reach a bigger success.  

"Our mental preparation and concentration will be very important. We have the World Championship in Qatar ahead of us which we also see as a possibility to reach the Olympic Games in Rio and that's why I want my players to give their maximum in these two matches.

"It would be great to open such an important period with good performances. I also have to say I'm happy we'll play in Koprivnica against Netherlands.

"It is a women's handball town but people there understand the game and I'm sure we'll experience a great atmosphere."

Goluza has nominated a team that consists of vastly experienced players, but the head coach also gives some younger players their chance to shine.

Besides Veszprem’s Mirko Alilovic and Zagreb’s Filip Ivic, Ivan Pesic completes the goalkeepers’ trio. The last time Pesic, who plays club handball for Meshkov Brest, took to the court for Croatia was at the World Championship 2011 in Sweden.

On the right wing the Goluza nominated a well-rehearsed duo with Zagreb tema captain and Kielce’s Ivan Cupic, while on the left wing Manuel Strlek and Ivan Nincevic from Turkish champions Besiktas will share the court time.

For the line player’s position Goluza went for the experienced Igor Vori and Zeljko Musa.

However, there are more changes in the Croatian men’s national team when it comes to its back court.

Denis Buntic is not available because of an injury and Goluza nominated neither Drago Vukovic nor Blazenko Lackovic.

On the left back position the Croatian head coach instead puts his trust in Damir Bicanic, Ivan Sliskovic, who was shown some brilliant games for Celje this season already, and defence specialist Jakov Gojun.

Without surprise there is no way around World Handball Player Domagoj Duvnjak who is supported by Zagreb duo Sandro Obranovic and Josip Valcic as well as by Igor Karacic.

Completing the squad on the right back position are Marko Kopljar and Luka Stepancic.

Another newcomer to the Silvio Ivandija, who replaces Zdravko Zovko as assistant coach.

"Croatia is for sure the overwhelming favourite in the upcoming two matches.

"In fact, with such a team, we are favourites against anyone and because of that I expect from my players to find motivation playing for their country and show the best of their huge talent," said Goluza when the team was presented.


TEXT: Bruno Pinevic / ts
 
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