Ivano Balić Likely Returning to Croatia Handball Bench

Daniela Rogulj

Updated on:

Slavko Midzor / PIXSELL
Slavko Midzor / PIXSELL

24 Sata reports that Balić should act as Horvat’s first assistant, and Igor Vori, who has played a double role so far, should remain only the national team’s sports director in the future.

While the news about Ivano Balić’s engagement is still unofficial, sources close to the Croatian Handball Federation have revealed that Balić agreed to accept the offered position of an assistant coach. The formality of the appointment and official announcement will be at the HRS Board meeting and then at the Assembly, in the second week of April, immediately after the Easter holidays.

The first next action of the Croatia national handball team is the EHF EURO Cup, a competition in which the teams that directly qualified for the European Championship in 2022 will compete: Spain and Croatia as finalists of the last European Championship and Slovakia and Hungary, which as hosts do not have to play qualifiers. The EHF has organized a special competition for these four national teams, which continues on April 26.

As it is usual to send invitations to players two weeks in advance, it is expected that the association will complete the procedure of appointing Ivano Balić as soon as possible. Given the current epidemiological situation, it is not yet known where all the matches will be played, but Croatia should play in Varaždin. The possibility remains to play two matches with the same opponent on the same court if it is easier to organize it due to other countries’ epidemiological situation.

At the end of January, Lino Červar proposed Ivano Balić as a candidate for the new coach after Červar resigned from the post but retained the coordinator position for men’s handball. The unnatural and illogical position in which the former coach proposes his successor should also be discussed in the Board and the Assembly.

After the debacle at the World Champs in Egypt, Lino Červar was succeeded by Hrvoje Horvat, who had the advantage over the other two candidates: Slavko Goluža and Ivano Balić. At that time, the board of directors did not even consider Balić as a candidate, with the explanation that he did not have the necessary license.

“After an exhaustive discussion and detailed analysis of each of the offered candidates, it was determined that Ivano Balić, unfortunately, does not have the required credentials to perform the function of the coach. Of the two remaining candidates, the Board of Directors member, who is busy with work obligations, decided to maintain continuity in the work of the national team and decided to appoint Hrvoje Horvat as the coach of the Croatia men’s senior national team,” HRS announced at the time.

In the meantime, the handball team was left without the Olympic Games at the qualifying tournament in Montpellier, France. Still, the HRS leadership stood behind the Croatia coach and entrusted him with leading the team in the coming period. Ivano Balić’s engagement should give him additional strength and authority in his attempt to return Croatia to the top of European and world handball.

Until now, Ivano Balić has worked as a coach of the junior national team. He has a coaching license but not a “master coach,” which is necessary for the coaches who lead the national teams in the biggest competitions. However, Balić regularly attends lectures and should get a license this year so that he could sit on the bench as the national team coach in the future.

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