Ambitions and hopes are always high when it comes to handball in Croatia. Every January, handball is the number one sport in the country, and 2019 is going to be no different. After hosting the EHF EURO 2018 and finishing 5th, Lino Cervar will look to go at least one step further and try to win a medal with his team. However, the squad has mostly agreed that the main goal is to qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.
Croatia's last medal at the World Championship has come in 2013 in Spain, when they won bronze. After that, they finished 6th in Qatar, and 4th in France. Two years ago, they were inches close to the appearance in the final, but lost to Norway in the semi-final, after Horvat missed the last-second penalty to win the match. However, that is definitely behind them, and will look for their 5th World medal, after the gold in 2003, silvers in 2005 and 2009 and bronze in 2013.
Croatia always needs to be put among the favourites to win a medal. Even though this year's squad has some new faces, they are a very strong team. In preparation for the tournament, Cervar picked Montenegro and Italy as opponents, and Croatia won both matches without major trouble. After those two matches, the 18-player list was announced, featuring many SEHA players. Nexe and PPD Zagreb both have three players on the roster. Ivan Vida, Halil Jaganjac and Marin Sipic will represent the club from Nasice, whilst Zlatko Horvat, Damir Bicanic and David Mandic are coming from PPD Zagreb, with Leon Susnja and Josip Bozic Pavletic suffering injuries that didn't allow them to participate. Vardar's Igor Karacic is also on the list, alongside some other star faces, like Luka Cindric, Domagoj Duvnjak, Luka Stepancic and Manuel Strlek. Sego - Stevanovic is the goalkeeping duo for Croatia at this World Championship.
Their group is quite tough, with three terrific opponents. Apart from facing another SEHA country Macedonia, Croatia will battle with Bahrain, Japan and especially Iceland and Spain in Munich in Group B.
We wish good luck to Croatia at the upcoming World Championship, especially to our SEHA – Gazprom League players!