31.05.2013, 01:23
Penezic's return boosts Croatia's optimism

Despite not having fully recoveres after an elbow injury, the prolific left back has decided to help her team in European play-off against France a place at the 2013 World Championship

Penezic's return boosts Croatia's optimism

In the summer of 2012, the Croatian women's national team reached the quarter-finals at the London Olympic Games. The team felt on a high, it was their biggest success so far, but what followed soon after was an unexpected descend.

They failed to reach the main round at the EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia and important players like Andrea Penezić and Miranda Tatari suffered from injuries.

Now Croatia face France in the European play-offs (1 and 9 June) for a place at the 2013 World Championship and head coach Vladimir Canjuga has invited 20 players that face the daunting tasking of bringing Croatia back on track.

"In last three years we've been present at all big tournaments and we want to continue that streak.

"The bad luck we had in Serbia, together with missing a lot of key players, has put us here and now we have a tough challenge in front of us.

We will miss Miranda Tatari for sure, but Andrea Penezić is back and it makes me happy. Although Andrea is not fully fit, she will be great help for us. Besides Miranda, we will also miss Ivana Petković very much, especially in defence," Vladimir Canjuga said.

Petković misses the match due to pregnancy.

The Croatian coach has a lot of respect for the French team: "We will face a team thats belongs to five best teams in the world.

"France were unlucky in London and in Serbia as they didn't collect any silverware, but they are very strong. We know them very well. Mendy, Signate, Pinault, Dembele.. All these women are top class players.

"But in my oppinion, the key fact for those matches will be the defence. France plays it excellent, but if we manage to perform good in our defensive play, it will open up a lot of possibilities for fast transition and easy goals."

The best left back from last World Championship in Brasil, Andrea Penezić, will return after she had been sidelined with an elbow injury.

She is not fully fit, and will have to undergo another artroscopy, but she nevertheless decided to help her team.

"I'm happy to be back and I will give my best to help. This is the new team with some new players that gained their first big experience in Serbia last December.

"But there are two matches, and first we have to play well in France. In my oppnion, the rematch at home, in front of our noisy fans, has to be an advantage.

"We are underdogs, but both matches will be very tight. I hope we will celebrate at the end," the Croatian left back said.  

TEXT: Zlatko Skrinjar / ts

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