The EHF EURO 2018 in France marks a new era for the Croatia women’s national team. With a new coach and young players, they are ready to gain valuable experience on the international stage.
Vesna Milanovic Litre, Maja Koznjak and Aneta Benko retired after the last EHF EURO 2018 Qualification match against Ukraine, saying that it is time for the young players to shine. The team that travels to France is certainly going to be a young one. The oldest players are 29, but most were born between 1994 and 1996. The injuries to Marijeta Vidak and Camila Micijevic are a significant problem for coach Nenad Sostaric, as both are out for the EHF EURO 2018.
Croatia’s best result to date at an EHF EURO was fifth in 1994. The team’s most important achievements in other competitions came when they reached the quarter-finals at the World Championships in 1997 and 2011, as well as at the 2012 Olympic Games, where they lost to eventual bronze medallists Spain.
Coach Sostaric and his team are aware that they are playing in very difficult Group C, but they hope for surprises against their powerhouse opponents: Hungary, Spain and the Netherlands.
Though she is only 24 years of age, goalkeeper Ivana Kapitanovic is one of the most important members of Nenad Sostaric’s team. In France, Kapitanovic will make her debut on the EHF EURO stage, as she missed the 2016 event due to a knee injury.
Kapitanovic started playing handball in Split before moving, at a very young age, to Koprivnica, where she spent 10 years. She made her debut in the EHF Champions League at the age of 15, for Podravka Vegeta. Her first international transfer was to French champions Metz Handball ahead of the 2018/19 season.
Kapitanovic’s saves were crucial in many EHF EURO 2018 Qualification matches and she will be one of Croatia’s most important players in France.
Katarina Jezic has been part of the Croatia national team since 2011, when she was the youngest player in the squad for the World Championship in Brazil, at 19 years of age. She has a significant experience in international handball since she has been playing in European cup competitions since 2012.
Currently, Jezic plays for Hungarian side Siofok KC. Her previous clubs include Buducnost and HCM Baia Mare. Jezic has strong offensive skills but is also very important in defence. This will be her second EHF EURO after 2014. She missed the EURO in Sweden in 2016 due to injury.
Jezic has played the most international matches in the current squad – 58 games, scoring 107 goals.
Nenad Sostaric took over the Croatia national team in September 2017 and has since led the young squad to success, highlighted by impressive performances during the EHF EURO 2018 Qualification Phase. Alongside his role as national coach, Sostaric is also head coach of Lokomotiva Zagreb, the team he led to the Challenge Cup title in 2017.
Previously, Sostaric coached the Croatia women’s national squad, back in 2002, as well as the junior and youth national teams. Sostaric also holds an EHF Master Coach licence as well as an EHF Pro licence, and works as an EHF lecturer and IHF travelling coach.
Past Performance at EHF EURO Events
|2008||FYR Macedonia||6th place|