Croatia beat Spain 30-29 in the quarter-final match of the World Handball Championship
There were many doubts regarding the Balić – Babić – Metličić way of leading the national handball team, but after the perfect game on January 24, 2017, it is time to step back and give respect to the Croatian handball team and its leadership.
It was an epic battle between two harsh rivals, and the Spanish surprised Croatian one only in the first couple of minutes, taking the 2-0 lead after two fast-breaks. The Cowboys kept their cool and pushed on to take the lead, which they kept until the very end.
After this kind of display, it is unfair to single out any individuals. Marko Mamić took away the man of the match award, but if there was ever a game where the team deserved the award, it was the one we watched tonight. Goalkeeper Ivan Stevanović had 36% of the shots saved, Željko Musa was perfect on the both sides of the court, Jakov Gojun was rock solid on defense, and scored the relief goal for Croatia when it was not looking good for the team.
Domagoj Duvnjak was at his level, simply one of the best in the World, experienced Horvat did not miss a single shot, and scored probably the decisive goal from the impossible angle. Štrlek, Matulić, Pešić, Stepančić, Kontrec, Cindrić, Mandalinić, Šebetić, all played their roles to get this win.
We mentioned the leadership of the team, and they deserve the section of their own. First of all, the legend – Ivano Balić, the chief coordinator of the national teams, who decided to keep Željko Babić at the helm of the national team, in time when public and the most of the federation officials wanted to sack him.
Babić got the vote of confidence after Balić insisted on his choice. Babić showed competence, together with his assistants, Metličić and Losert, and lead Croatia to the final four once again.
Croatia will face Norway in the semi-finals, scheduled for Friday in Paris. Well done, lads!