Janc and Slovenia ready for M20 EHF EURO

EHF / Danijela Vekić

During the summer all eyes will turn to the European Younger Age Category events. After the first of two Men’s EHF Championships 2022 in Bulgaria on 2 July, young talents across Europe are waiting for the M20 EHF EURO 2022 to commence on 7 July in Portugal.

This will be the first edition of the competition after four years, as the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Slovenia were the last team to raise the U20 trophy in 2018 and their successors – those players born in or after 2002 – are hoping to repeat that success.

At last year’s M19 EHF EURO in Croatia, Slovenia finished fourth after losing the bronze medal to Spain, 28:37. However, Slovenia and their head coach Saša Prapotnik were proud of the team and one name in particular, Mitja Janc. The centre back was named MVP and best centre back of the tournament as well as being its top scorer with 61 goals.

“It was an amazing feeling, those awards showed me I’m on a good path and that I’m doing something right. But at the end, the only important thing is the team’s success. Unfortunately, Slovenia finished fourth and I’m still sorry we lost against Spain in a battle for the medal. That’s sport. We will see what this competition will bring,” says Janc.

There is no doubt all eyes will be on him at the M20 EHF EURO starting on 7 July in Portugal.

“We had a good preparation period. We played against Italy, Croatia and Austria and had good three weeks and I believe we are ready for the championship. We still have some small work to be done regarding opponents in the group,” says the 19-year-old Janc before travelling to Portugal.

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Slovenia are keeping their hopes high for another strong tournament, continuing the positive run of results for their younger age categories.

“No matter what, we will fight until the last match. We want to fight for a medal but we know we must go step by step, match by match and give our best. I believe we can play better than the last time,” adds the centre back.

Slovenia start their M20 EHF EURO 2022 path in group B alongside Denmark, Hungary and the Faroe Islands, beginning on 7 July at 15:30 CEST in Vila Nova de Gaia against Hungary.

“Hungary are well-known opponents. We already played against them, just like Denmark. The only uncertainty are the Faroe Islands as we never saw them play,” Janc says.

“My opinion is that we can play and win against everyone in the group but at the same time I am aware that we can lose every match. We should not take anything for granted,” adds Janc, whose strong shots and anticipation of the game will be a nightmare for the opponents’ defence.

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Janc started his handball path in Sevnica before joining Celje Pivovarna Lasko, but is yet to make his mark for the Slovenian champions and the national team. However, he has talent, strong will and many more years to develop in the right direction; just like his national team friends, many of whom developed significantly last season.

“I think we all have progressed since last year. Almost everyone in the team is playing for a senior team or the first league which is good for all of us. I believe we can play good handball,” says Janc.

Janc also has handball in his blood and is following in the footsteps of his brother, EHF Champions League Men champion Blaz Janc, who plays for Barça.

“My brother is my big support. I’m proud of his success and that I have him by my side. At the last EHF EURO we talked every day, about good and bad things. I believe it’s going to be the same in Portugal too. He is always there for me and I learn a lot from him,” concludes Mitja Janc.

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