Slovenia was better prepared and had more energy to overcame Croatia and win the 5th place at the W17 EHF Euro. In the neighbors derby Slovenians won 24-22 showing persistence and character.
The match was tough at the start, goals were difficult to score, and defenses were strong at the both sides. Slovenia was the first to make a difference with more than one goal (8-6) and even though Croatia came back from that, Slovenians still were leading by two goals at the break, 11-9.
Croatia managed to come back and make it anyone’s game, but soon the lack of energy in their team was obvious. In the final minutes Slovenia kept the aggression in their defense, and stopped every move of their opponent. That was the recеpie for a comfortable lead by 3 in the dying minutes, 24-21, ant the path to the victory.
Anika Strnad was the player of the match with 6 goals for Slovenia, and even though Tena Japundza scored 7 for Croatia the goalkeeper Magdalena Ecimovic was selected as the MVP in her team.
Head coach of Slovenia, Milan Ramsak:
“If someone had offered me 5th place I wouldn’t have accept it because I am a sportsmen, I always want more. In sport you are never satisfied unless you are at the top. But still this 5th place is a great success for our small country. I believe it will be a motive for the upcoming generations. It is a big deal to have such small choice of players, to come to a European championship, to present our own style of playing, and manage to make significant result. We came with big ambitions, first to qualify for the World championship next year, and after that we wanted to go to the semi-final, but we couldn’t beat Romania. This should be a great inspiration for this team, for this generation to work harder and develop even more”
Head coach of Croatia, Ivan Jerkovic:
“We had played six huge and demanding matches before this one, so the girls simply got tired. We didn’t have enough energy. I tried with the players who played less in the previous matches but that isn’t our best quality. Their body wanted, but the mind couldn’t. They made a lot of mistakes, missed a lot of sure chances…They were simply too tired. I don’t have any remark to the girls. They were playing with their hearts, fighting till the last atom of their strength. For the next championship we have to make the choice of players wider”