Croatia played a key match against Argentina on Saturday evening, one that could have secured them a spot in the quarterfinals of the World Championship in Egypt. A win would have ensured Croatia a place among the eight best national teams in the world before the end of the main round. In that case, the match against the reigning world champion Denmark on Monday would be played only for a better position before the quarterfinals. However, with an Argentina win, Croatia would need a victory against Denmark – and Qatar would need to defeat Argentina for the Cowboys to see the next round.
Worrying news arrived the day before the match, as RTL reported that several members of the Croatia team complained of stomach problems, and Ivan Martinović and Domagoj Duvnjak were in the worst condition. Martinović missed training and was tested for coronavirus as a precaution, but the result was negative. Other players felt weaker symptoms, which was certainly concerning before the most important match of the tournament so far.
Fortunately, two hours before the match, the Croatian Handball Federation confirmed that everyone would be ready.
Croatia met Argentina four times before tonight’s match at the 2021 World Championship and recorded three victories. In 2005 at the World Championship, Croatia was convincing with a score of 36:23, in 2011, another convincing victory of 36:18, and a close win at the 2016 Olympic Games (27:26). Argentina only defeated Croatia at the 2003 World Championship, celebrating 30:29.
Argentina beat Congo 28:22 and Bahrain 24:21 in the first phase of the competition and lost to Denmark 20:31. In the first match of the second round, they beat Japan 28:24. Before tonight’s game, Denmark lead Group 2 with 6 points, Croatia was in second with 5 points, and Argentina in third with 4 points.
Argentina v. Croatia Recap
Argentina scored the girl goal of the match for 1:0 in the first minute. Argentina made it 2:0 two minutes in – and 3:0 seconds later.
Croatia’s shaky start was certainly attributed to nerves – and Argentina scored for 4:0 in the 4th minute.
It was 5:0 for Argentina in the 5th minute.
Argentina’s keeper was solid in goal, denying Croatia’s top players from scoring in the three minutes that followed. Cupic scored Croatia’s first goal only in the 10th minute for 5:1.
Cupic scored from 7-meters in the 14th minute to make it 6:2. Croatia was only down by 4 goals. Mandic made it 7:3 in the 15th.
Cupic scored his third goal of the game from 7-meters in the 16th minute. Croatia reduced the score to -3 – 7:4.
Karacic scored for 7:5 one minute later, and again for 7:6 in the 19th.
Cupic scored again from 7-meters for 8:7 with nine minutes to go in the first half. Cupic was on fire, scoring his 5th goal of the match (5/5) for 10:8 – and again for 10:9 (6/6).
Croatia received another 7-meter throw in the 26th minute – Cupic scored his 7th goal of the game, and 4th from 7-meters, for 11:10.
Sebetic scored for 12:11 with two minutes to go – and again for 12:12 in the last minute of the first half, which was the result at halftime.
Croatia took the lead for the first time in the match in the 31st minute, but Argentina quickly equalized for 13:13.
Mamic scored for 15:14 in the 34th minute, and Croatia was behind by one goal again. Mamic scored yet again for 16:15 in the 36th.
In the 48th minute, Argentina was up by 3 goals – 18:15.
Duvnjak scored for 19:16 in the 51st minute. Sebetic scored for 20:17 in the 53rd, but Argentina quickly reacted for 21:17.
Jaganjac scored for -4 with two minutes to go – 22:18. Mandic scored from 7-meters for 22:19 with 40 seconds to go. Argentina scored the final goal of the game for 23:19.
Croatia and Denmark meet next on Monday.
To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.