The Croatian men's team - once more - is a force to reckon with at the 2013 European Beach Handball Championships in Randers
Strong Croatia going for the three-peat
Croatia dominated the two most recent European Beach Handball Championships, winning the event in 2009 as well as on home sand in Umag two years ago.
This year in Randers they once again look strong. They have won their first four matches at the final tournament without giving away a single set and have already secured their spot at the main round even before their last preliminary round match against Ukraine throws off at 18:00 hrs today (11 July).
The team can count on the experience they gained at the 2011 European Beach Handball Championship, as seven from the ten Croatian players in Randers already won the title back then.
"We have a new specialist and a new goalkeeper and a third player was part of the youth team in Umag," head coach Davor Rokavec said.
"This experience means a lot. The players know each other, they know how to move, almost without looking.
The difference we make is our defence. For five or six years now we have the three same guys defending and the same goalkeeper – that's our backbone."
However, Rokavec knows that a title at the European Beach Handball Championships never comes easy.
"Russia will be one of our main opponents. They have a very, very strong team," he says.
"Denmark (are also strong) because they are the hosts and they are well prepared. Also Spain and Ukraine – these will be the teams that have potential to reach the podium."
Physical and pyschological preparation
Backed by the experience of two top podium finishs in 2009 and 2011, Rokavec knows what it takes for a team to all the way.
"One of the important things is to come with a physically well prepared team," he explains.
"But at the end of the day it all comes down to the brain. You need to be prepared to play the final game the same way as the first game, without stressing the game's importance.
"If you think the final game is much more inportant than the first one, then your hand is short and you miss shots you usually don't miss – we try to work on that to be psychologically prepared to play every game the same – 100 per cent and that's it."
Information about the 2013 European Championships
The 2013 European Beach Handball Championship throws off in Randers, Denmark, from 9 to 14 July 2013.
Entry to the event area for spectators is free. There are no tickets necessary.
Defending champions in both the men's and the women's event are the teams from Croatia.
TEXT: EHF / ts
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