Croatia look for more success
2012 has already been a highly successful year for Croatia’s men’s national handball team. They won bronze at the EHF EURO in January and again came third at the London 2012 Olympic Games, once more underlining that they are one of the top teams in Europe.
Now, at the throw-off of the qualification for the Men’s 2014 EHF European Championship, the squad would like to continue following this successful path, but has to start without Ivano Balić.
The star player is injured and has therefore not been selected by head coach Slavko Goluža. Also experienced left wing Ivan Ninčević, who plays club handball for German side Füchse Berlin, has not been selected for the first two qualification matches against Slovakia on 31 October and in Latvia on 3 November.
„I decided that we don’t need Ninčević in this moment. I have seen his (VELUX EHF Champions League) games against Barcelona and Szeged. Now, we have Manuel Štrlek with us,“ Goluža said.
„My plan is to replace some players for the second match against Latvia. Yes, that means that I have bigger respect for the Slovakian team in this moment.“
The biggest surprise on the list of selected player is Igor Vori, who already announced that he won’t be play next January at the World Championship 2013 in Spain.
„Vori is with us, he got my call properly. About his participation at the World Championship is still early to say anything more,“ Goluža said.
Another concern for Croatia is the injury of left back Blaženko Lacković. The 31-year-old broke his ring finger last week and according to a statement made by his club HSV Hamburg, he won’t be able to play handball for four weeks.
However, Lacković has also been quoted by Croatian news outlet Vecernji List that he will join his Croatian teammates following the German Bundesliga clash between HSV Hamburg and THW Kiel on Saturday, 27 October.
"Of course, I will come. That was never in dispute," the national team player said.
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The Croatian squad for two upcoming matches at EHF EURO 2014 qualification:
Goalkeepers: Mirko Alilović (Veszprem), Filip Ivić (CO Zagreb)
Right wings: Ivan Čupić (Kielce), Zlatko Horvat (CO Zagreb)
Left wing: Manuel Štrlek (Kielce), Hrvoje Batinović (CO Zagreb)
Line players: Igor Vori (HSV), Željko Musa (Kielce)
Backs: Blaženko Lacković (HSV), Jakov Gojun (Atletico Madrid), Marko Matić (CO Zagreb), Domagoj Duvnjak (HSV), Marko Kopljar (PSG), Denis Buntić (Kielce), Josip Valčić (CO Zagreb), Drago Vuković (Lubbecke)
TEXT: Zika Bogdanovic / ts