Goluza confident Zagreb can improveArticle
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Croatians aiming for greater heights next season

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Goluza confident Zagreb can improve

Winning the national league and cup double would be a notable achievement for any club, but Croatian giants Zagreb take domestic honours almost for granted amid a modest competition at home.

Having won all 21 Croatian league titles since the Adriatic nation gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, coupled with 19 trophies in the national cup, Zagreb remain ever so hungry for European success.

They tasted glory in 1992 and 1993 when they won back-to-back titles in Europe’s premier club competition and then lost their next four finals albeit to stronger rivals. Reaching the quarter-finals of this season’s VELUX EHF Champions League did not fully satisfy Zagreb’s new coach Slavko Goluza, especially in view of the fact that they finished a modest third on home soil in the inaugural regional SEHA league before he took over.
Zagreb were the hot favourites to win the SEHA League Final Four in their own Arena but could only watch from the sidelines as Vardar Skopje beat city rivals Metalurg in an all-Macedonian final, prompting the club’s board to sack coach Ivica Obrvan and make way for Goluza.

The former Croatia left and centre back, who also coaches the national team - after he won a haul of medals as a player - told the country’s media he was convinced Zagreb would do better in Europe next season.

“I can’t complain about getting knocked out of the Champions League by THW Kiel because they are the strongest team in the world and they proved it in no uncertain terms by winning the competition,” said Goluza.

“My only regret is that the players lacked a little bit more confidence in the two games against Kiel, perhaps we could have won the first leg in Zagreb and taken something to the away fixture with just a bit more self-belief,” he added.

“The team did a lot of good work before I took over and had it not been for the slip-up in the regional league, it would have been a great season. Still, we can take heart from defending the domestic double as well as from the breakthrough made by several young players, namely Jakov Gojun, Lovro Sprem, Filip Ivic and Luka Sebetic,” Goluza pointed out.

The experienced coach knows, however, that greater heights in Europe require major signings and he expressed confidence that Zagreb would be able to boost their squad for the upcoming challenges.

“We have a good blend of youth and experience and the team will flourish when we sign four or five new players during the summer break. The new signings we have lined up are exactly what I asked for and I am confident that we will be able to stand our ground against any opposition next season.”

TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic