Tatari injury blights Podravka’s surge towards Main RoundArticle
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Podravka´s captain could be out until Ferbuary with a knee injury

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Tatari injury blights Podravka’s surge towards Main Round

Croatian champions Podravka Vegeta are one step away from reaching the EHF Champions League Main Round but their 28:21 home win over Romanian rivals U Jolidon Cluj on Sunday was marred by a serious injury to captain Miranda Tatari, who is also in danger of missing the EURO 2012 in Serbia, 4-16 December.

Tatari was carried off by her team mates in the second half and the initial predictions are that she will be out of action until February, after rupturing her knee ligaments.

Club doctors said she would undergo surgery as soon as possible in order to try to get back to match fitness in time for the European Championship, as Podravka’s physiotherapist Bojan Savić left a glimmer of hope she would recover sooner than expected.

„We hope her recovery will take less time than this kind of injury requires because of her strong posture,“ Savić said.

With pack leader Andrea Penezić almost certain to miss EHF EURO 2012 after failing to recover from an ankle injury she sustained during the Olympics, Tatari’s absence would deal a severe blow to Croatia’s hopes of winning a first medal as an independent nation in women’s handball.

National team coach Vladimir Canjuga was devastated with the bad news and concurred Croatia’s ambitions would be dented if Tatari too was to watch the tournament from the sidelines.

„Andrea Penezić is out and not having Tatari too would be an incredible blow because anyone who follows women’s handball knows what they mean to our national team,“ Canjuga said for

„Not having both of them would mean that we are entering the upcoming events with an entirely different team and it will take a long time to engineer players like Penezić and Tatari in Croatia,“ he added.

Podravka are now assured of playing at least in the latter stages of the EHF Cup Winners´ Cup but their main objective is to reach the Women´s EHF Champions League last eight, as they need just one point from their remaining two Group Matches to get there.

Their next game is a mouth-watering home tie against last season’s runners-up Györi Audi ETO, one of the favourites to win this season’s competition, hence the club made it clear what course of action would be taken if Tatari turns out to be a long-term casualty.

„In all likelihood, it means signing a top quality player to stand in for her because our top scorer Sanja Damnjanović can’t pull the strings on her own for the whole 60 minutes. The coach and the executive board will have the final say,“ Podravka said in a statement released to the media.

Coach Neven Hrupec too pointed out how big a loss Tatari’s injury would be for his success-hungry team.

„She is our engine and we are hoping for the best but come what may, we will play our hearts out against Györ as well as in the final Group Match at Krim Mercator in Ljubljana to secure a Main Round berth,“ he said.

„If we fail to progress to the next stage of the Champions League, I think the team is still good enough to do well in the Cup Winners´ Cup but right now we are delighted with the fact that our fate is in our own hands.“

Podravka have six points from four games but Krim, who have only two, can still overhaul them if they beat Cluj and then overcome Podravka by more than three goals in the final match, provided that Györ beat the Croatian champions in Koprivnica next weekend.

TEXT: Zoran Milosavljević / br