Canjuga boosts Podravka’s confidence after Györ defeatArticle
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Györ’s trophy-laden Norwegian line player Heidi Løke and Spanish coach Ambros Martín also heaped praise on Koprivnica.

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Canjuga boosts Podravka’s confidence after Györ defeat

Croatian champions Podravka Vegeta have an anxious week ahead of them, after a 29:22 home defeat by last season’s EHF Champions League runners-up Györi Audi ETO left them needing to avoid a four-goal defeat in their final Group Match to advance into this season’s Main Round.

Podravka, who are second behind Group B winners Györ on six points from five games, face a dogfight with Slovenian title holders Krim Mercator who stayed in the hunt with an emphatic 31:23 victory at Romanian debutants in the top flight, U Jolidon Cluj.

Although Podravka were outplayed by the Hungarian champions, Croatia national team coach Vladimir Canjuga offered words of support for the home team’s players, who sorely missed their injured captain Miranda Tatari.

Having ruptured her knee ligaments in the previous round against Cluj, Tatari is also set to miss EHF EURO 2012 in December as she is not expected to return to action until February.

“This has left Sanja Damnjanović as the only prolific right-handed shooter in the team and under the circumstances, I don’t think losing to Györ by seven goals was a disaster,” Canjuga told Croatia’s Sportnet website ( after the enthralling match in Koprivnica.

“Podravka had to readjust quickly and they held their on in the first half, but the going got tough after line player Vesna Milanović Litre was rested for a few minutes and the home team couldn’t keep up any more,“ he said.

„Even if they fail to progress into the Champions League last eight, Podravka will still carry on in the Cup Winners´ Cup and it’s a very strong competition. This season is a step forward because Podravka had not survived the winter break in Europe in the past three years.“

Györ’s trophy-laden Norwegian line player Heidi Løke and Spanish coach Ambros Martín also heaped praise on Podravka, with the former stressing how much she missed the challenge of facing Tatari on the court.

“It helped us win the match but I am really sad that Tatari has been sidelined and I hope she has a speedy recovery,” Løke told a news conference after the gruelling match. “We had special preparations for this match, we knew that Podravka are a great defensive team and hence took this game very seriously,” she added.

“I have to congratulate Podravka because they fought hard from start to finish and pushed us to our upper limits and I think they are capable of reaching the Main Round,” said Martín.

Podravka coach Neven Hrupec highlighted the fact that Tatari’s absence made Podravka’s mission against Györ impossible to accomplish, while he thanked the frenetic home fans for cheering his team on until the bitter end.

“We couldn’t repay their faith with a win or even a draw which would have sent us through to the last eight, but now that it has gone down to the wire we will do everything we can to make sure there is Champions League handball in Koprivnica after the winter break,” Hrupec said.

“Krim are a good side, their win in Romania showed that in no uncertain terms and the first thing we have to do is deal with the fact that Miranda Tatari is out of action, which we couldn’t do ahead of the Györ game. We will go to Ljubljana fully focused,” he added.

The regional derby is hence set to produce another thrilling chapter, with Krim winning the first three meetings between the two sides before Podravka finally got some measure of revenge with a 25:22 victory in the second round of this season’s Group Matches.

Milanović Litre, who was the other beacon of light for Podravka alongside Damnjanović with five goals on her account, specified what Podravka needed to do in order to come out on top against Krim.

„Our defence against Györ was not as intense as in the previous rounds and we have to analyse thoroughly before we go to Ljubljana what we did wrong at the back. Of course, we also have to put all the pieces into place up front because it’s difficult to play without Miranda Tatari. She is the pack leader pulling all the strings in attack.”

TEXT: Zoran Milosavljević / br