Domagoj Duvnjak, the best Croatian handball player, spoke to the official website of the 2017 World Championships. Here are his thoughts
After Ivano Balic, Domagoj Duvnjak became the second Croatian World Handball player of the year in 2013. Now, at France 2017, it is the job of the center and left back to steer his team to success against Spain in the quarter-final. On January 24, 2017, the 28-year-old THW Kiel player also comments on the surprising eliminations of Denmark and Germany.
Did you expect such a hard piece of work to beat Egypt in the eighth-final?
“It is true; we had to work really hard until the end. But the first 30 minutes was the best half we have played so far at this tournament – full of concentration and efficiency in attack and a stable defense. But then, I do not know what had happened after the break. Egypt grew into the game, and we made too many mistakes in attack. But finally we are among the best eight – this is what counts.”
Now you face Spain in the expected top match of the quarter-finals. How do you rate the chances to proceed to the semi-final?
“It will be a tough match. Spain can count on a brilliant defense with two outstanding goalkeepers. So we must prepare how to score against this ‘wall.’ This will be the key for the match. We will try everything.”
You had been suffering from some knee problems. How fit are you for the clash against Spain?
“Look down at my leg, the knee is still there (laughing). It is getting better, and I know from the last decade that I have to just clench my teeth as usual with such stuff.”
In the quarter-final, you will face your former THW Kiel teammate Joan Canellas. Will this duel be something special?
“During major tournaments, you face so many players you know so well from club level, from former or current clubs. So I am looking forward to meeting Joan, but it is not that special.”
How will the preparation for the quarter-final look like?
“We will focus on video analysis of Spain, the training session on Monday night will not be that hard, more tactic-orientated. And then we will see, how well we are prepared.”
Germany and Denmark are already out of the tournament. How do you rate their defeats against Qatar and Hungary?
“I was really, really surprised. But it shows that there have never been more teams capable of causing major upsets than now. The top of the world is quite wide now, which makes tournaments like this so interesting.”
We can only wish the best to Domagoj and his teammates tonight. Here is the video recorded at today’s morning training session, courtesy of Croatian Handball Federation: