Croatian Handball Team in Umag Ahead of World Championships in France

Daniela Rogulj

The Croatian handball team is in Umag where, until January 10, they will work off the second phase of preparations for the upcoming World Cup in France which begins on January 11, 2017.

Twenty-one Croatian national team representatives traveled to Istria in preparation for two HEP Croatia Cup games. The first opponent is Tunisia on January 8 at 18:00, while a day later, January 9, the Croatian handball players will face Montenegro, reports on January 1, 2017. Here is what coach Zeljko Babic has to say ahead of the World Championships.


“Because of Marino Maric’s injury, we will have to make tactical adjustments. We have nine days, and instead of Maric in Umag we will go with Kresimir Kozina who is a pivot with different characteristics. After the preparations, we will decide which players will travel to the World Cup in France. We have to go through all segments of games of attacks with both 6-0 and 5-1. We have new developments, and the defense has not trained because our defensive players were on vacation. We have a lot of things that we have changed. Time is always a problem and now I have to incorporate everything. It takes the cooperation of players, their engagement and focus. We have to do all tactical instructions because in the first phase we didn’t have this,” said coach Zeljko Babic, who announced that the preliminary matches at HEP Croatia Cup will be used to see how the players accept the new developments.


“Our first pivot was Marino Maric and we should not shy away from that. We thought a lot and built a lot of tactics with Marino. Now there will be a new player who has similar characteristics to him. I think it will be an easy choice of players because it is clear to me to know the profiles of the players and what we need for how we want to play. It will not be difficult, and there is still a decision to make about the goalkeeper. We have three, but we’ll bring two, and Venio Losert will decide and must take on that responsibility himself.”


Babic added that over Christmas he thought about the characteristics the players need, including speed and repetition. If the player is fast, has good repetition, and is young but can play at the level of a matured player, then he is a good contender to be chosen for the World Championship.


“We will decide at some point who will go, but for the championship we will certainly go with two wings and two outside right players. We have a combination, and we have to see how the pivot plays. The doubIe position will be the most critical. When we combine, we will have a lineup that will play well at 5-1 and the one that will play 6-0,” added coach Babic.


“I think that the first match against Tunisia will show how much we have succeeded in adapting to new modes of play. The first match will be difficult and will have its own dynamics, and it will allow us to test all players and both defense. Tunisia and Montenegro are good opponents, the result of these games will be interesting,” concluded Babic.


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