Croatian Handball Team After 6th World Championship Medal

Daniela Rogulj

After the last three major tournaments – the World Championship in Qatar 2015, the European Championships in Poland, and the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 – Croatia has won only one medal and that is the bronze medal from Poland. The Croatian handball team is facing a new challenge – the World Championship – which will be held from January 11 to 29 in France.

Vecernji List reports on January 10, 2017 that Croatia currently has five medals from World Championships, including one gold, three silver and one bronze. Croatian players achieved their biggest success in 2003 in Portugal, winning the first and thus far only world handball gold. Coach Lino Červar and his team opened the tournament with a shocking defeat against Argentina (29-30), and then sequenced eight wins for the big celebration.

Croatia has three times reached the finals (1995, 2005, 2009) and all three times faced defeat. In 1995 the team lost in Iceland to France (19-23). Ten years later in Tunisia, Croatia lost to Spain (34- 40), and in 2009 Croatia lost to France (19-24) in Zagreb. The last medal Croatian handball players have won at the World Championship was in Spain in 2013 where they placed in third. 

The 2017 World Championship will feature the 24 best teams in the world, with 14 from Europe alone. The teams are divided into four groups of six teams, and this time there will be no second round of the competition after the group stage – the top four teams from each of the four groups will qualify for the next round.

Croatia will play in the World Championship in Group C along with Germany, Belarus, Hungary, Chile and Saudi Arabia. In the next round, Croatia will intersect with teams from Group D which includes Qatar, Denmark, Sweden, Egypt, Bahrain and Argentina.

The Championship will be played in eight cities across France including Paris, Lille, Nantes, Montpellier, Albertville, Metz, Brest, and Rouen.

For the first time in the history of the world championships, the matches will use a “Video Proof System” that has been tested at the European Championships in Sweden. The system will be used only in two cases – when checking whether the ball passed the goal line and if the goal is scored or before the end of the half or game.

So far the world title has been conquered by nine countries. The record for most titles won is set by the French who boast five titles, while Sweden and Romania have won four. They are followed by the USSR / Russia and West Germany / Germany who both have three world golds, and the Spaniards who have two, while Croatia, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia have one gold. Qatar is the one non-European team to win the silver medal at the last World Championship. 

The French will again be one of the main contenders for the gold, but their vulnerability was demonstrated at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro where they lost in the final to Denmark. Within the biggest contenders for medals are Olympic champions Denmark, European champions Germany, and traditionally Spain and Croatia. The surprise contenders could be Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Hungary.


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