Champions going for three in a row
The Croatian men's beach handball team have been holding their final training sessions at lake Jarun before they head for Randers, Denmark for the 2013 European Beach Handball Championship.
All Croatian team members are looking forward to the event, fully aware that history could be made.
Two years ago, on home sand in Umag, the men's team defended the European title won in Larvik in 2009.
Denmark offers the unique opportunity to win a third championship in a row.
Croatian coach Davor Rokavec confirmed the ambitions of the team. Rokavec was a member of the team that took gold in Larvik, now he has the opportunity to win as a coach.
“Every tournament we participate in, we want to win. This is our aim, and it's valid for Denmark too. First goal is to reach semi-finals, to secure a spot in next World Championship and then we'll try to reach highest position again.
“This team has a lot of experience; we are together for more than seven years playing three consecutive European championship finals.
“After the tournament in Croatia we decided to pump some fresh blood into the team, to find some players for future.
“We'll stick to this plan again so we have two new players. Ivan Dumenčić will replace Hrvoje Horvat as a ‘specialist’ and we have new goalkeeper David Henigman replacing Luka Bumbak,” explains Rokavec.
Croatians will miss Hrvoje Horvat, one of the best specialists there is. Horvat has stated his career as a coach of younger age categories and he took his team to EYOF in Holland. However, coach Rokavec gave his full support to Horvat's replacement.
“Specialist is a very important position is our sport, this player is engine of whole team in offensive part of the game.
“We've played some preparation tournaments where Dumenčić showed his full potential and I'm sure he will have an excellent tournament in Randers,” says Rokavec.
MVP of last championship in Umag, winger Mladen Paradžik is satisfied with preparations that are coming to an end.
“This will be our first tournament without Horvat. However, Dumenčić is a very talented newcomer and our offensive play won't suffer. All my other teammates are very experienced and skilful players and during this preparations and tournaments we played, we modified our game to a new situation,” says Paradžik.
This will be Paradžik's sixth consecutive European Beach Handball Championship. He is aware that the quality of beach handball in Europe is rising and the circle of favourites is spreading.
“Despite a fact that Croatia and Russia played in the last three finals, I'm expecting a lot of difficult matches.
“Denmark is hosting, their ambitions will be high. One to watch is Spain; they raised level of their play a lot and there will be a strong challenge from Russia and Ukraine.
“Those five teams are the favourites, but Hungary also has a strong team and they could also have a chance,” concluded Paradžik.
Croatia men's team for the 2013 European Beach Handball Champioship:
Goalkeepers: Igor Totić (BHC Detono Zagreb), David Henigman (BHC Detono Zagreb)
Court players: Hrvoje Biuklić (Let Cepelin Toma Soft Zagreb), Ivan Jurić (BHC Detono Zagreb), Matej Semren (KRP Sokol Zagreb), Ivan Dumenčić (BHC Dubrava Zagreb), Mladen Paradžik (BHC Detono Zagreb), Zvonimir Đikić (BHC Sandstorm Zagreb), Drago Vojnović (BHC Dugi Rat), Josip Šandrk (Sandstorm Zagreb), Valentino Valentaković (BHC Detono Zagreb)
TEXT: Zlatko Skrinjar / cor