The Croatian Handball Federation released a statement that revealed that Domagoj Duvnjak and Luka Cindrić had tested positive for coronavirus nine days before the European Handball Championship, reports Gol.hr.
Duvnjak only joined the national team on January 1 due to his obligations in Kiel, while Cindrić has been preparing with Croatia for longer. It is not known where they became infected. Duvnjak complained of back problems from day one and missed training.
“Although the preparations of the Croatian men’s senior national team for the Croatia Cup and the European Championship are taking place with the strictest epidemiological measures, the coronavirus has, unfortunately, penetrated our ranks, like many other national teams and clubs.
This morning’s PCR tests, which are part of the commitment to the European Handball Federation before coming to the competition, revealed that two Croatian handball players are positive. They are Domagoj Duvnjak and Luka Cindrić. They are feeling well so far and have milder symptoms. Of course, according to the prescribed protocol, they were placed in isolation. All other players and professional staff members are negative and continue with regular training. Just in case, tomorrow morning, January 5, everyone will have PCR testing again,” HRS reported on Tuesday.
“We have no luck with that. We are implementing the measures envisaged in this situation. We conducted antigen testing, today a PCR test. The two players are positive, and the tests have justified their purpose.
Interestingly, these antigen tests were negative, we thought we were sure of that, but still, positive results arrived. Therefore, we will isolate the players and test ourselves later. Fortunately, there are milder symptoms, and I hope that they will get out of it quickly, but we can never be sure that they will be able to play,” said the doctor of the national team Tomislav Kukina.
There is no need to waste words on how important the duo is for Croatia’s game, especially Domagoj Duvnjak, who has led the national team for years. At the same time, the excellent performance by Barcelona player Luka Cindrić was expected at this Euro after injuries kept him out of Croatia’ squad in the last year. However, they may both miss the competition. In the best-case scenario, they could return by the start of the championship if they receive the prescribed isolation of fewer than ten days and, in addition, must have a negative test. Both are vaccinated because players who have not received both doses cannot play in the Euro according to EHF rules.
Coach Hrvoje Horvat can call Igor Karačić or Domagoj Pavlović instead of Luka Cindrić.
As Duvnjak was planned to be used on the left outside, coach Horvat will have to think carefully about who to call if Duvnjak cannot play. The ideal options are Stipe Mandalinić and Ivan Slišković, who play very well at their clubs.
France and Serbia have also been affected by the coronavirus. As a result, both national teams canceled friendly matches ahead of the Euros.
Due to injuries, France is deprived of three Olympic champions (Timothey N’Guessan, Nedim Remili, and Luka Karabatic). In addition, they may be without a fourth, goalkeeper Vincent Gérard, due to family issues, while Elohim Prandi was violently attacked on December 31, 2021.
A total of nine positive cases among the invited players, including pivot Théa Monara, was revealed on Sunday.
The only good news for France is the return of four infected players, including Nikola Karabatic, who started training separately on Sunday.
Serbia also received positive tests on Tuesday. Infected players Vladimir Cupara and Bogdan Radiojevic and coach Toni Gerona, goalkeeper coach Dimitrija Pejanovic, physio Petar Radulovic and head of the delegation Milorad Krivokapic are in isolation and have milder symptoms.
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