Duvnjak: “As usual, I’ll clench my teeth”

2X0A8436

23 January 2017

After Ivano Balic, Domagoj Duvnjak became the second Croatian World Handball player of the year in 2013. Now, at France 2017, it is the job of the centre and left back to steer his team to a success against Spain in the quarter-final. In this interview, the 28-year-old THW Kiel player also comments on the surprising eliminations of Denmark and Germany.

Did you expect such a hard piece of work to beat Egypt in the eighth-final?

Domagoj Duvnjak: “It is true, we had to work really hard until the end. But the first 30 minutes was the best half we have played so far at this tournament – full of concentration and efficiency in attack and a stable defence. But then, I do not know what had happened after the break. Egypt grew into the game and we made too many mistakes in attack. But finally we are among the best eight – this is what counts.”

Now you face Spain in the expected top match of the quarter-finals. How do you rate the chances to proceed to the semi-final?

Domagoj Duvnjak: “It will be a tough match. Spain can count on a brilliant defence with two outstanding goalkeepers. So we must prepare how to score against this ‘wall’. This will be the key for the match. We will try everything.”

You had been suffering from some knee problems. How fit are you for the clash against Spain?

Domagoj Duvnjak: “Look down at my leg, the knee is still there (laughing). It is getting better and I know from the last decade that I have to just clench my teeth as usual with such stuff.”

In the quarter-final you will face your former THW Kiel teammate Joan Canellas. Will this duel be something special?

Domagoj Duvnjak: “During major tournaments, you face so many players you know so well from club level, from former or current clubs. So I am looking forward to facing Joan, but it is not that special.”

How will the preparation for the quarter-final look like?

Domagoj Duvnjak: “We will focus on video analysis of Spain, the training session on Monday night will not be that hard, more tactic-orientated. And then we will see, how well we are prepared.”

Germany and Denmark are already out of the tournament. How do you rate their defeats against Qatar and Hungary?

Domagoj Duvnjak: “I was really, really surprised. But it shows that there have never been more teams capable to cause major upsets than now. The top of the world is quite wide now, which makes tournaments like this so interesting.”