PREVIEW: The U17 Beach Handball EURO sees 15 men’s sides and 12 women’s teams contesting the titles at Jarun Lake in Croatia from Friday to Sunday
Spain and Netherlands aim for consecutive titles
The U17 Beach Handball EURO begins on Friday in Zagreb with 15 teams fighting for the men’s title and 12 contesting the women’s trophy.
It is the second EURO event for this generation of beach handball players, who participated in the U16 Beach Handball EURO last year in the Portuguese town of Nazare.
At that event, Spain raised the men’s trophy, Portugal finished second and Italy won bronze, while the Netherlands claimed the women’s gold medal ahead of Spain, and Portugal ranked third.
At Jarun Lake, where the Jarun Cup 2017 threw off the European Beach Tour season at the end of April, both teams will fight to defend their titles against tough competition.
Spain will take on Germany, Switzerland, Ukraine and Serbia in preliminary round Group A, while their 2016 Final opponents Portugal begin their campaign from Group B against Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Slovakia.
“We are finishing our period of preparation and everything is great. We want to win in every game. The atmosphere in the team is really good, we are all as one, fighting together,” Croatia team captain Kresimir Obratov told the official Beach Handball EURO website.
“I think that Croatia and Spain are favourites for winning the gold medal. We are impatient for this Championship and I invite fans to come and support us.”
Obratov’s team will battle for a quarter-final place from Group C against Italy, Russia, Netherlands and Romania.
In the men’s competition, the two top sides from each of the three playing groups proceed to the quarter-finals along with the two best third-ranked teams. In the women’s, the teams are divided into two preliminary round groups, from which each group’s top four teams qualify for the quarter-finals.
The Netherlands will meet Hungary, Germany, Poland, Romania and Ukraine in women’s Group A, while Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Russia, Switzerland and Lithuania play from Group B.
It is the second junior Beach Handball EURO organised by Croatia after they hosted the U19 championship in 2011.
TEXT: Courtney Gahan / ts
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