European success means lifeArticle
«Go back

VELUX EHF Champions League countdown, part 22: RK Croatia Osiguranje Zagreb (CRO)

»EHF CL Channel »2011-12 Men's News

European success means life

Since the independence of their country 20 years ago, hundreds of teams fought for in total 40 handball titles in Croatia – and 38 times RK Zagreb (in various names) raised the respective trophies.

Record participants

In all 20 years they became Croatian champions and 18 times Croatian cup winner. So it does not come as a surprise that no other team has competed in the EHF Champions League more often than Zagreb.

As the 19th season of the European top class is starting now, it is the 18th time for the number one of Croatia to be among the best team competition in the world.

No European title yet

And not many teams have a longer line of success although RK Zagreb never won the trophy since the start in 1993.

Four times between 1994 and 1999 they reached the finals, but they unfortunately always had to face FC Barcelona in their ‘Golden Generation’.

In 2000 they were semi-finalists and from then on four quarter-finals and three participations in the Last 16 followed.

Young players developed

Nowadays the team of top star Ivano Balic (twice World Handball Player of the Year) give their youth a chance to develop – as part of their five year master plan which includes the qualification for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in the end.

Players like Marko Kopljar or Jakov Gojun have developed extremely fast and are now in the footprints of forerunners like Duvnjak or Vori who left two years ago.

Valcic joins the squad

Aside Zagreb signed experienced Josip Valcic, who won the Cup Winners’ Cup last season with German side VfL Gummersbach.

As goalkeeper Gorazd Skof transferred to Koper in Slovenia, talented Marin Sego will get more chances to develop.

Only two players of the squad – Gyula Gal (Hungary) and David Spiler (Slovenia) are not Croatian.

Three league participations

The team of Ivica Obrvan, who became Zagreb’s coach in February, is starting in three competitions, as they are not only favourites in the Croatian league but also in the new international SEHA Balkan League.

There they will meet opponents from Ex-Yugoslavia and Slovakia.

Quarter-final as the goal

In the VELUX EHF Champions League the quarter-final is the objective in the Croatian capital.

Aside a Balkan duel with Sarajevo, Zagreb will face Barcelona, Schaffhausen, Chambery and Sävehof.

Ancic confirms quarter-finals as goal

Club manager Ante Ancic says: "Being a club with long history in the EHF Champions League our goal remains the same.

To reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 will be our objective in four seasons and we hope that we can reach it.

Our group is very attractive, clear favourites are defending champions FC Barcelona.

We are expecting many attractive matches and want to show good and successful handball."

Team captain Zlatko Horvat adds: "As our manager said we are also expecting many good matches and our goal for next season will be the quarter-final."

Three questions to coach Ivica Obrvan What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the VELUX EHF Champions League - concerning your objectives and your group opponents?

Ivica Obrvan: We are expecting a very hard battle for second position in our group with Chambery and Schaffhausen.

The top spot is probably reserved for Barcelona, but we will try to beat them, too. What does the participation in the VELUX EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?

Ivica Obrvan: As we have been champions in our league for the last 20 years, to be part of the VELUX EHF Champions League means life for us. What teams are your personal favourites to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 and for winning the title this season – and why?

Ivica Obrvan: There is no "why", because everybody knows the four favourites: Kiel, Hamburg, Barcelona and Madrid.

Club facts – RK Croatia Osiguranje Zagreb (CRO)

Newcomers: Josip Valcic (Gummersbach/GER), Ante Kaleb (Dugo Selo), Ilija Brozovic (Gorica)

Left the club: Gorazd Skof (Cimos Koper/SLO), Adnan Jaskic (no club), Michal Kopco (Tatran Presov/SVK), Goran Bogunovic (no club)

Coach: Ivica Obrvan, since 2011

Qualification for the 2011/2012 VELUX EHF Champions League season: Croatian Champion

VELUX EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2011/2012 season): 18
Final (4): 1994/1995, 1996/1997, 1997/1998, 1998/1999
Semi Final (1): 1999/2000
Quarterfinal (4): 2000/2001, 2002/2003, 2003/2004, 2008/2009
Last 16 (3): 2005/2006, 2009/2010, 2010/2011
Main Round (1): 2007/2008
Group Phase (3): 1993/1994, 2004/2005, 2006/2007

Other EC records:
Cup Winners Cup Finalist 2004/2005
Cup Winners Cup Semi-finalist 2006/2007

Croatian champion: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

Croatian Cup winner: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010

Further information

Find more information on RK Croatia Osiguranje Zagreb HERE.

Join the growing community of handball fans on Facebook!

TEXT: Björn Pazen