Croatia face EHF EURO champions, Montenegro, to prepare for 2013 World Championship Play-Offs against France
Two tests against the bests
Following a disappointing performance at EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia, two tests against the bests shall now help to put the Croatian women's national team back on track.
A bit less than three months out of the crucial play-off duels against France at the beginning of June for a spot at the 2013 World Championship, Croatia will play two test matches against EHF EURO 2012 champions, Montenegro, on 22 and 23 March in the Montenegrin city of Bar.
Furthermore the EHF EURO 2014, which Croatia co-hosts together with Hungary, is already looming on the horizon, which is why head coach Vladimir Canjuga puts utmost importance on his team's preparations.
Compared to the team that took to the court in Serbia last December and could not qualify for the main round, Maja Kožnjak and Aneta Peraica have not been nominated for the two friendlies.
Also missing is Ivana Jelčić who ended her international career.
On the other side, Andrea Penezić and Jelena Grubišić, both currently playing a strong season with Slovenian side, RK Krim Mercator, in the Women's EHF Champions League, are back in the squad.
Team captain Miranda Tatari is still missing because of a knee injury she sustained in autumn last year, but there is hope in the Croatian camp that she will return in time for the play-off matches against France – just like Sonja Bašić who is also currently injured.
Canjuga has nominated a number of new players, such as Marina Razum, Iva Pongrac, Nataša Janković, Iva Milanović, and Jelena Vidović, making a first step towards a rejunevation of his team.
“Our preparations are focused on the matches against France. They are a hard opponent, but we have something to say, too,“ Canjuga said.
“Of course, at the same time we are thinking about the EHF EURO in Croatia and Hungary next year.
Canjuga also mentioned that he regards it as an honour to play against the EHF EURO champions in less than two weeks.
“I always say that I want to play against the best because that is the only right way to move forward.
“We surely have clear goals for the future. Rejuvenation is also a part of that process. It is a logical thing, we've got to look forward,“ the head coach concluded.
Croatia's list of players for the test matches
Goalkeepers: Jelena Grubišić (RK Krim), Marta Žderić (Podravka), Marina Razum (Lokomotiva)
Wings: Maja Zebić (Zaječar), Ekaterina Nemaškalo (Sesvete), Iva Pongrac (Podravka), Anita Gaće (Podravka), Mataša Janković (Lokomotiva)
Line players: Katarina Ježić (Budućnost), Vesna Milanović-Litre (Lokomotiva), Dragica Đono (Zelina)
Back court players: Lana Franković (Sesvete), Andrea Penezić (KRIM), Kristina Elez (Erdy), Iva Milanović-Litre (Samobor), Jelena Vidović (Umag), Sonja Bašić (Metalurg), Ivana Lovrić (Samobor), Ivana Petković (Zelina) and Žana Čović (Podravka).
TEXT: Bruno Pinević / ts
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