The Croatia men’s handball team defeated Montenegro in a friendly match at Spaladium Arena last night, but is the team ready to take on Serbia in the opening match of the European Handball Championship next week?
Croatia secured a win against Montenegro in the first and only preliminary match for the European Handball Championship which begins next Friday in Split. Croatia defeated Montenegro 25:22, reports Gol.hr on January 5, 2018.
The most important news from the match is that it went without injury, and Domagoj Duvnjak returned to Croatia’s bench! Duvnjak came back in the right way, too – with goals, proliferation and contributions to the defense. The return of Duvnjak has also given a bigger hint of optimism to Croatian fans ahead of the first match of the European Championship, set to take place between Croatia and Serbia on Friday.
Although the match was friendly, preparatory and of humanitarian character (all ticket revenue went to the KBC Split Clinic for Pediatric Surgery), it was undoubtedly played at the competitive level – and it was apparent after both coaches decided to use all of their attacking and defensive options. From the beginning of the game, Croatia had a +4 lead, and the score was 9:5 in the 16th minute, mainly thanks to Duvnjak who hit all three initial shots.
The Montenegrins were better in the second half and in the 42nd minute, they were able to come back for 16:15. In the 46th minute, Ivan Pešić twice defended an equalizing shot while Croatia crashed into an attacking game. Luckily, with three goals by Zlatko Horvat, six minutes before the end, Croatia was up 24:20 which was enough to win.
Croatia’s best scorers were Manuel Štrlek with 5, Duvnjak with 4, Luka Stepančić, Ivan Čupić and Luka Cindrić each with three goals, Marko Kopljar with two, and Igor Vori and Igor Karačić with one.
Despite the winning performance, Croatia coach Lino Červar was anything but satisfied with his team.
“I’m happy to win, but if we look at the details, then I’m not very happy. Stronger rivals will capitalize on all of our mistakes. There are positive things, but I have more criticisms of the player’s account,” Cervar told RTL.
Where is there room for progress?
“In the defense, especially on the right, we received a few very light goals. We have to play tight, fight for each lap. We were not focused. We changed the defense, but in vain. We played defensively 6-0 and 5-1. We were sorry, we wanted to achieve goals quickly, so we missed some odds – but the defense was up and down, and this must not happen anymore,” the coach added.
On Friday, Croatia and Serbia will meet in the opening match of the European Handball Championship.
“Against Serbia, we have to correct the shortcomings I’ve seen tonight. In any case, I always start from defending the match and losing it. In the attack, we had too many mistakes and misses. We can’t talk about a good show if the defense was not right. We can’t fix things overnight, and some players were injured or had no time in their clubs. We can run and play the match very well, but we want to handle things individually, and that’s not good. You should know how to compete,” said Červar, adding:
“We’ll keep track of our rivals a bit, analyze them, and I think everything’s in the head.”
All the funds from the friendly meeting at Spaladium Arena, which was attended by around 10,000 spectators at ticket prices worth 20 kuna, are intended for the Split Children’s Hospital. A beautiful gesture of the Croatian handball team.