Despite losing to Montenegro in Podgorica, Croatia will still advance to the World Championship thanks to their blowout win in the first game of the series.
The Croatian men’s handball team has qualified for the World Championship, which will be held in Denmark and Germany in January 2019, even though they lost to Montenegro in Podgorica in the return qualifying match 32:31 (18-14), reports Gol.hr on June 14, 2018.
However, in the first duel in Osijek five days ago, a convincing Croatia victory of 32:19 placed the national handball team in the Handball World Championship with a total of 63:51.
The most efficient members of Croatia were Zlatko Horvat with seven goals and Manuel Štrlek with six goals, while Montenegro was led by Vujović who scored nine goals and Božović who scored seven.
Croatia’s meeting in Podgorica was an overall very poor performance, and especially in defense, giving Montenegro a 4-point advantage quickly for 7:3. Failing to prevent a single hit from Montenegro’s attacks, Lino Červar’s defense was quick to lose the ball, and Montenegro had no problem scoring in an empty Croatian net.
Croatia’s defeat continued until the 17th minute when it was an already worrying 13:6 for Montenegro. However, thanks to a better defensive game that resulted in rapid counterattacks, Croatia, and primarily Štrlek, decreased the lead to 18-14.
In the end, Croatia almost managed to reach and even briefly lead Montenegro – in the 50th minute it was 26:26, and in the 52nd minute 27:26 for Croatia, but the home side still finished stronger, defeating Croatia for the first time in their sixth attempt.
Croatia will now wait until June 25th for the draw of the World Championships in Copenhagen.